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Keywords:

  • allergic rhinitis;
  • asthma;
  • levocetirizine;
  • quality of life

Summary

Background Levocetirizine (LCZ) has been shown to be effective in allergic rhinitis. We evaluated its clinical efficacy, antinflammatory actions and its effects on quality of life (QoL) with a specific instrument in the asthma–rhinitis comorbidity.

Methods Fifty adult patients with persistent rhinitis with/without asthma were enrolled. After a 1-week run-in for baseline evaluation, they were randomized to LCZ or placebo for 8 weeks. Cromolyn and salbutamol were permitted on demand. Rhinoconjunctivitis and asthma symptoms were evaluated by diary cards. QoL was assessed by the specific Rhinasthma questionnaire and the generic SF-36 at different time-points. Nasal scrapings and lavages were also performed for inflammatory cell count and mediator assessment.

Results Ten patients dropped out for unrelated reasons and the remaining completed the study with no side-effect. Symptoms began to decrease in the active group at the second week of treatment when the difference with the placebo group became significant (0.05) and so remained until the end of the trial. Starting from 2 weeks of therapy, there was a significant decrease vs. baseline in all the four components of the Rhinasthma questionnaire only in the active group. The intergroup comparison became significant (P<0.05) at 4 weeks. The SF-36 detected only sporadic differences between groups. Eosinophils and neutrophils in nasal scraping were significantly decreased in the LCZ group vs. baseline at all times. Nasal mediators were under the detection limits and no analysis could be performed. In the active group, only two patients used rescue medications compared with 13 patients in the placebo group.

Conclusions LCZ is clinically effective and capable of improving the rhinitis–asthma-related QoL.