Background and objective: Asthma is an inflammatory disease of the lungs that is characterised by increased inflammatory cell infiltration into the airways and poor respiratory function. Ivermectin is a semi-synthetic derivative of a family of macrocyclic lactones that shows broad-spectrum anti-parasitic activity. This drug has been shown to possess anti-inflammatory activity, but whether it can be used in asthma treatment has not yet been investigated. In this study, we aimed to investigate the inhibitory effects of ivermectin on allergic asthma symptoms in mice.
Methods and results: We used a mouse asthma model, in which allergic airway inflammation and airway remodelling were induced by ovalbumin (OVA) sensitisation and challenge. Ivermectin or PBS treatment was administered 1 h before OVA challenge. Ivermectin at 2 mg/kg significantly diminished recruitment of immune cells, production of cytokines in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluids and secretion of OVA-specific IgE and IgG1 in the serum. Histological studies indicated that ivermectin suppressed mucus hypersecretion by goblet cells in the airway.
Conclusions: This is the first study to demonstrate that ivermectin is an effective suppressor of inflammation and may be efficacious in the treatment of non-infectious airway inflammatory diseases such as allergic asthma.