The cysteinyl leukotrienes have long been suspected to play a role in the pathogenesis of asthma. This speculation was based largely on their release in human lung following antigen challenge as well as their potent bronchoconstrictor activity. However, there is increasing evidence that the cysteinyl leukotrienes also produce several pro-inflammatory effects and alter the activity of neuronal pathways in the airways. Douglas Hay, Theodore Torphy and Bradley Undem review these recent data and discuss the therapeutic possibilities of cysteinyl leukotriene receptor antagonists and 5-lipoxygenase inhibitors.
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