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Cytokines or Their Antagonists for the Treatment of Asthma*

Paul M. O’Byrne, MB, FCCP
Author and Funding Information

*From McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada.

Correspondence to: Paul M. O’Byrne, MB, FCCP, Department of Medicine, McMaster University Medical Center, 1200 Main St West, Hamilton, ON, L8N 3Z5 Canada; e-mail: obyrnep@mcmaster.ca



Chest. 2006;130(1):244-250. doi:10.1378/chest.130.1.244
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T helper (Th) type 2 cytokines, particularly interleukin (IL)-4, IL-5, and IL-13, may be important in the development of allergic asthma. Humanized monoclonal antibodies (MoAbs) against IL-5 and a recombinant human soluble IL-4 receptor (sIL-4R) have been developed as possible treatments. These approaches have not yet proven to be successful in patients with persistent asthma. This may suggest that neither IL-4 nor IL-5 is important in asthma pathogenesis. There is, however, insufficient information about the efficacy of sIL-4R and the anti-IL-5 MoAbs in asthma to draw any firm conclusions about the importance of these Th2 cytokines. Also, the administration of the potentially antiinflammatory cytokines IL-12 and interferon-γ has not shown benefit in asthmatic patients. By contrast, the treatment of severe oral steroid-dependent asthma with soluble tumor necrosis factor-α receptor has demonstrated very promising results, suggesting that this cytokine plays an important role in the persistence of severe asthma.

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