Pilot study on recurrent aphthous stomatitis (RAS): a randomized placebo-controlled trial for the comparative therapeutic effects of systemic prednisone and systemic montelukast in subjects unresponsive to topical therapy

Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod. 2010 Mar;109(3):402-7. doi: 10.1016/j.tripleo.2009.10.024. Epub 2009 Nov 18.


Background: Recurrent aphthous stomatitis (RAS) is characterized by recurrent painful oral ulcers whose etiology remains largely unknown. Numerous therapeutic protocols have been tried so far, but effectiveness remains an issue.

Objective: To test a new drug for patients with recurrent oral aphthae nonresponsive to local corticosteroid therapy, we compared the therapeutic effectiveness and adverse effects of systemic prednisone and systemic montelukast in a placebo-controlled trial.

Study design: Sixty patients suffering from minor RAS for > or =6 months were studied and randomly assigned to 3 groups of 20 each in a double-blind study. Patients of group A took 25 mg prednisone orally daily for 15 days, 12.5 mg daily for 15 days, 6.25 mg daily for 15 days, then 6.25 mg on alternate days for 15 days. Patients of group B took 10 mg montelukast orally every evening and then on alternate days for the second month. Patients of group C took 100 mg cellulose (placebo) by mouth daily for the first month and on alternate days for the second month. Outcomes assessed were days til pain cessation, days to ulcer healing, and number of aphthae occurring during the follow-up period.

Results: Both prednisone and montelukast were effective in reducing the number of lesions and improving pain relief and ulcer healing when compared with placebo. Prednisone was more effective than montelukast in pain cessation (P < .0001) and in accelerating ulcer healing (P < .0001). However, adverse drug reactions recorded during the entire trial were more common in the prednisone group compared with montelukast (10%) and placebo (10%).

Conclusions: These data suggest that the effectiveness of systemic montelukast is similar to that of systemic prednisone in patients with RAS. The lack of serious side effects makes montelukast a candidate drug to use in cases of RAS where pharmacologic therapy for long periods is needed.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acetates / therapeutic use*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Leukotriene Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / complications
  • Pain / prevention & control
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prednisolone / therapeutic use*
  • Quinolines / therapeutic use*
  • Stomatitis, Aphthous / complications
  • Stomatitis, Aphthous / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Acetates
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Leukotriene Antagonists
  • Quinolines
  • Prednisolone
  • montelukast