Cytokines or their antagonists for the treatment of asthma

Chest. 2006 Jul;130(1):244-50. doi: 10.1378/chest.130.1.244.


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-gamma has not shown benefit in asthmatic patients. By contrast, the treatment of severe oral steroid-dependent asthma with soluble tumor necrosis factor-alpha receptor has demonstrated very promising results, suggesting that this cytokine plays an important role in the persistence of severe asthma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Asthma* / classification
  • Asthma* / drug therapy
  • Asthma* / etiology
  • Cytokines / adverse effects
  • Cytokines / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-13 / therapeutic use
  • Interleukin-4 / administration & dosage
  • Interleukin-4 / therapeutic use
  • Interleukin-5 / therapeutic use
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents
  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-13
  • Interleukin-5
  • Interleukin-4