• early intervention;
  • eosinophil;
  • pediatric asthma;
  • suplatast tosilate;
  • Th1/Th2 ratio

The onset of asthma may be related to Th2 cytokine dominance at the time when food allergies occur several months after birth. This study investigated the effectiveness of early intervention with a Th2 cytokine inhibitor (suplatast tosilate) for prevention of asthma in infants with food allergies and atopic dermatitis. Suplatast tosilate dry syrup (6 mg/kg daily) or a histamine H1-blocker (ketotifen fumarate dry syrup: 0.06 mg/kg daily) was administered randomly to 53 infants with atopic dermatitis caused by food allergies. The primary endpoints were the incidence of asthma and the time to the onset of wheezing. The peripheral blood Th1/Th2 ratio, total IgE level, and eosinophil count were measured before and after treatment. After 24 months of treatment, the prevalence of asthma was significantly lower in the suplatast group (20.8%) than in the ketotifen group (65.6%, p < 0.01). Additionally, the time from the start of treatment to the initial episode of wheezing for infants who developed asthma was significantly longer in the suplatast group than the ketotifen group (p < 0.01). Furthermore, the eosinophil count was significantly decreased by suplatast treatment (p < 0.05), and there was a significant difference between the suplatast and ketotifen groups with respect to both the eosinophil count (p < 0.01) and the Th1/Th2 ratio (p < 0.05). The results of the present pilot study suggest that suplatast tosilate is useful for the primary prevention of wheezing and asthma in children.