Mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) are evolutionary conserved enzymes which play a key role in signal transduction mediated by cytokines, growth factors, neurotransmitters and various types of environmental stresses. In the airways, these extracellular stimuli elicit complex inflammatory and structural changes leading to the typical features of asthma including T cell activation, eosinophil and mast cell infiltration, as well as bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airway remodelling. Because MAPKs represent an important point of convergence for several different signalling pathways, they affect multiple aspects of normal airway function and also significantly contribute to asthma pathophysiology. Therefore, this review focuses on the crucial involvement of MAPKs in asthma pathogenesis, thus also discussing their emerging role as molecular targets for anti-asthma drugs.
2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.