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Treatment Of Allergic Asthma: Modulation Of Th2 Cells And Their Responses

Berislav Bosnjak, Barbara Stelzmueller, Klaus J Erb, Michelle M Epstein

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Abstract Atopic asthma is a chronic inflammatory pulmonary disease characterised by recurrent episodes of wheezy, laboured breathing with an underlying Th2 cell-mediated inflammatory response in the airways. It is currently treated and, more or less, controlled depending on severity, with bronchodilators e.g. long-acting beta agonists and long-acting muscarinic antagonists or anti-inflammatory drugs such as corticosteroids (inhaled or oral), leukotriene modifiers, theophyline and anti-IgE therapy. Unfortunately, none of these treatments are curative and some asthmatic patients do not respond to intense anti-inflammatory therapies. Additionally, the use of long-term oral steroids has many undesired side effects. For this reason, novel and more effective drugs are needed. In this review, we focus on the CD4+ Th2 cells and their products as targets for the development of new drugs to add to the current armamentarium as adjuncts or as potential stand-alone treatments for allergic asthma. We argue that in early disease, the reduction or elimination of allergen-specific Th2 cells will reduce the consequences of repeated allergic inflammatory responses such as lung remodelling without causing generalised immunosuppression.