Background and purpose: Immune and inflammatory responses, mediated by cytokines, play important roles in the pathophysiology of asthma. These responses are associated with over expression of T helper (Th)-2 cytokine, particularly interleukin (IL)-4 and IL-5, and decreased expression of Th-1 cytokine, IL-2 and IFN-γ. We hypothesized that there would be an imbalance in the levels of circulating IL-4 and IFN-γ in the asthmatic subjects.
Method: We investigated serum levels of IL-4 and IFN-γ among eighty children (18 steroid-naïve, 30 steroid-treated children with asthma and 32 healthy controls) using commercially available ELISA kits.
Results: Serum level of IL-4 was significantly higher in steroid-naïve group of asthmatic children compared to the healthy control subjects and was lower in steroid-treated group though the level was statistically not significant. In contrast, serum levels of IFN-γ were significantly lower in both steroid-naïve and steroid-treated groups of asthmatic children compared to healthy control subjects.
Conclusion: The results of our study suggest that serum level of IL-4 may be elevated in concert with decreased level of IFN-γ in asthma. Determination of serum levels of IL-4 and IFN-γ may be a useful tool for understanding the disease processes in asthma.
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