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Systematic review of montelukast's efficacy for preventing post-bronchiolitis wheezing



Infants often develop reactive airway diseases subsequent to respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) bronchiolitis. Cysteinyl leukotrienes (cysLTs), a class of lipid mediators that have been implicated in the pathogenesis of allergic rhinitis and asthma, are released during RSV infection, thereby contributing to the pathogenic changes in airway inflammation. Many pediatric patients, especially those of very young age, continue to have recurrent episodes of lower airway obstruction after bronchiolitis treatment. This study was to systematically review and assessed the efficacy of montelukast for preventing wheezing in patients with post-bronchiolitis. The Cochrane library, PubMed, China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI) periodical databases were screened for studies related to use of montelukast for preventing post-bronchiolitis wheezing published up to 31 December 2012. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-RCTs using montelukast alone as an active intervention in infants up to 24 months of age with post-bronchiolitis were selected. Two authors independently extracted data and assessed trial quality using the recommendations published by the Cochrane Collaboration. The meta-analyses were performed using the Cochrane statistical package RevMan5.0.0. Four trials, containing 1430 infants with confirmed diagnosis of acute bronchiolitis, were analyzed. Patients were administered montelukast at post-bronchiolitis. Three trials showed no effects of montelukast on reducing the incidence of recurrent wheezing risk ratios (RR = 0.78, 95% CI: 0.55–1.12, p = 0.17), while two trials found that montelukast did reduce the frequency of recurrent wheezing and another two trials demonstrated no effects of montelukast on symptom-free days. The pooled montelukast treatment group showed no significant effect on reducing the usage of corticosteroids, as compared to the placebo group (RR = 1.11, 95% CI: 0.85–1.44, p = 0.45). Two trials showed that montelukast significantly decreased serum eosinophil-derived neurotoxin levels, as compared to the control group. In general, the side effects of rash, vomiting, and insomnia caused by montelukast occurred in 1.5% of patients analyzed. The recent evidences indicate that montelukast may reduce the frequency of post-bronchiolitic wheezing without causing significant side effects but that it has no effects on decreasing incidences of recurrent wheezing, symptom-free days, or the associated usage of corticosteroid in post-bronchiolitis patients. The small number of enrolled participants and the inability to pool all clinical outcomes precludes us from making solid recommendations.