Parent-determined oral montelukast therapy for preschool wheeze with stratification for arachidonate-5-lipoxygenase (ALOX5) promoter genotype

Chinedu Nwokoro* (Corresponding Author), Hitesh Pandya, Stephen Turner, Sandra Eldridge, Christopher J. Griffiths, Tom Vulliamy, David Price, Marek Sanak, John W. Holloway, Rossa Brugha, Lee Koh, Iain Dickson, Clare Rutterford, Jonathan Grigg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The clinical effectiveness of intermittent montelukast for wheeze in young children is unclear. Previous work has been equivocal. Variation in copy numbers of the specificity protein 1-binding motif in the arachidonate 5-lipoxygenase (ALOX5) gene promoter; where the wild type has five copies per allele, denoted here as 5/5, but variant genotypes may have 1–8 copies on each allele, denoted as x/x or 5/x, influences montelukast efficacy in asthmatic adults. This polymorphism may identify a responsive subgroup within this population.

To assess the clinical effectiveness of montelukast in preschool wheezing children. To explore the effect of the ALOX5 promoter genotype on this effect.

A multicentre, parallel-group, double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial.

Twenty-one primary care sites and 41 secondary care sites in England and Scotland.

Children aged 10 months to 5 years with two or more wheeze episodes, one within the last 3 months, stratified by ALOX5 promoter genotype, either 5/5 or [5/x + x/x]. Children with other respiratory vulnerabilities were excluded.

Parent-initiated 4 mg oral granules of montelukast or identical placebo administered once daily for 10 days from the onset of every cold or wheeze episode over 12 months.

Main outcome measure
Need for unscheduled medical attendance for wheezing.

Children were stratified by ALOX5 promoter genotype, either 5/5 or [5/x + x/x], where x ≠ 5. Children in each stratum were independently randomised to receive montelukast or placebo in a 1 : 1 ratio via a permuted block schedule (size 10). Clinical investigators and parents were blinded to treatment group and genotype stratum.

Genotype was identified by analysis of salivary deoxyribonucleic acid. Analysis was by intention to treat. Primary outcome data came from treatment diaries, scheduled telephone calls and caregiver records.

A total of 1358 children were randomised to receive montelukast (n = 669) or placebo (n = 677). Consent was withdrawn for 12 (1%) children. Primary outcome data were available for 1308 (96%) children. There was no difference in unscheduled medical attendances for wheezing episodes between children in the montelukast and placebo groups {mean 2.0 [standard deviation (SD) 2.6] vs. mean 2.3 (SD 2.7) unscheduled medical attendances; incidence rate ratio (IRR) 0.88, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.77 to 1.01; p = 0.06}. Compared with placebo, unscheduled medical attendances for wheezing episodes were reduced in children given montelukast in the 5/5 stratum [mean 2.0 (SD 2.7) vs. mean 2.4 (SD 3.0) unscheduled medical attendances; IRR 0.80, 95% CI 0.68 to 0.95; p = 0.01], but not in those in the [5/x + x/x] stratum [mean 2.0 (SD 2.5) vs. mean 2.0 (SD 2.3) unscheduled medical attendances; IRR 1.03, 95% CI 0.83 to 1.29; p = 0.79, p-interaction = 0.08]. We recorded one serious adverse event: a skin reaction in a child allocated to placebo.

There is no clear benefit of intermittent montelukast in young children with wheeze. However, the 5/5 ALOX5 promoter genotype might identify a montelukast-responsive subgroup.

The study lacks power to confirm the validity of the suggested genotype stratum effect. Additionally, the effect is contrary to that hypothesised and is not supported by urinary data. We could not robustly measure treatment compliance.

Future work
Future work should test the stratum effect with a repeat trial in the apparently more responsive (5/5) stratum only.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages156
JournalEfficacy and Mechanism Evaluation
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2015

Bibliographical note

This project was funded by the Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation programme, a Medical Research Council and National Institute for Health Research partnership.


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