Th2 cytokines and asthma. Interleukin-4: its role in the pathogenesis of asthma, and targeting it for asthma treatment with interleukin-4 receptor antagonists

Respir Res. 2001;2(2):66-70. doi: 10.1186/rr40. Epub 2001 Feb 19.


Interleukin-4 (IL-4) mediates important pro-inflammatory functions in asthma including induction of the IgE isotype switch, expression of vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), promotion of eosinophil transmigration across endothelium, mucus secretion, and differentiation of T helper type 2 lymphocytes leading to cytokine release. Asthma is a complex genetic disorder that has been linked to polymorphisms in the IL-4 gene promoter and proteins involved in IL-4 signaling. Soluble recombinant IL-4 receptor lacks transmembrane and cytoplasmic activating domains and can therefore sequester IL-4 without mediating cellular activation. We report the results of initial clinical trials, which demonstrate clinical efficacy of this naturally occurring IL-4 antagonist as a therapeutic agent in asthma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asthma / immunology*
  • Asthma / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-4 / genetics
  • Interleukin-4 / immunology*
  • Receptors, Interleukin-4 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Receptors, Interleukin-4 / genetics
  • Receptors, Interleukin-4 / therapeutic use
  • Recombinant Proteins / therapeutic use
  • Th2 Cells / immunology*


  • Receptors, Interleukin-4
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Interleukin-4