Alexander Jordan, Louise Lindhardt Toennesen*, Josefin Eklof, Pradeesh Sivapalan, Howraman Meteran, Klaus Bønnelykke, Charlotte Suppli Ulrik, Jens-Ulrik Stæhr Jensen

*Corresponding author for this work


BACKGROUND: Recent observational studies suggest that the leukotriene receptor antagonist montelukast may have neuropsychiatric adverse effects, however, results are conflicting.

OBJECTIVE: To assess if montelukast exposure in adults with asthma is associated with onset of neuropsychiatric adverse events using data from the Danish nationwide health registers.

METHODS: Individuals ≥18 years with either ≥1 prescription redemption of inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) or with at least one hospital contact with asthma as the main diagnosis between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2018 were included. Montelukast exposure was assessed as a time-dependent variable. The two outcomes of interest were: use of neuropsychiatric medicine including antidepressants, antipsychotics, anxiolytics, lithium and medication used for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (outcome 1), and hospital contacts with a neuropsychiatric diagnosis (outcome 2), within 90 days of exposure to montelukast.

RESULTS: Initiation of montelukast was significantly associated with outcome 1: use of neuropsychiatric medicine (HR (95% CI) = 1.14 (1.08-1.20, p <0.0001). In the assessment of outcome 2: hospital contacts with a neuropsychiatric diagnosis, a significant risk associated with montelukast initiation was found only in the youngest age groups (HR (95% CI) = 1.28 (1.12-1.47), p<0.001 and 1.16 (1.02-1.31), p<0.05, for age group 18-29 and 30-44, respectively). Age-stratified analyses showed that the risk of both outcomes increased with decreasing age, with the highest risk seen in patients aged 18-29.

CONCLUSION: Among younger individuals, montelukast use was significantly associated with an increased risk of neuropsychiatric events such as use of neuropsychiatric medicine and hospital treatment. Clinicians should increase awareness of such adverse effects when prescribing montelukast.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe journal of allergy and clinical immunology. In practice
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Mar 2023


  • Asthma medicine
  • Leukotriene receptor antagonist
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Side effects


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