Chitinases and chitinase-like proteins in T(H)2 inflammation and asthma

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2005 Sep;116(3):497-500. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2005.06.028.


Chitin is the second most abundant biopolymer in nature, where it protects crustaceans, parasites, fungi, and other pathogens from the adverse effects of their environments, hosts, or both. Because chitin does not exist in mammals, it had been assumed that the chitinases that degrade it are also restricted to lower life forms. However, chitinases and chitinase-like proteins have recently been noted in mice and human subjects. The prototypic chitinase, acidic mammalian chitinase, was also noted to be induced during T(H)2 inflammation through an IL-13-dependent mechanism. It was also shown to play an important role in the pathogenesis of T(H)2 inflammation and IL-13 effector pathway activation and demonstrated to be expressed in an exaggerated fashion in human asthmatic tissues. The finding that chitinases contribute to host anti-parasite responses and asthmatic T(H)2 inflammation support the concept that asthma might be a parasite-independent anti-parasite response.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asthma / enzymology*
  • Asthma / immunology
  • Chitinases / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / enzymology*
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Interleukin-13 / immunology
  • Mice
  • Th2 Cells / immunology*


  • Interleukin-13
  • Chitinases