Purpose of review: Recent studies have highlighted the role of alarmins in asthma pathophysiology and tested the roles of these cytokines in asthmatic patients. This review will discuss the recent advances in the role of alarmins in asthma and the potential of future targeted therapies in asthma.
Recent findings: Epithelial-derived cytokines can be released upon exposure to external stimuli, causing damage to the epithelial barrier and resulting in tissue inflammation. Of these cytokines, IL-25, IL-33 and thymic stromal lymphopoeitin (TSLP), have been associated with asthma. These alarmins are all not only overexpressed in asthmatic airways, particularly in airway epithelial cells, but also in other structural and immune cells. Furthermore, all three alarmins drive type-2 pro-inflammatory responses in several immune cells that have been identified as key players in the pathogenesis of asthma, including innate lymphoid type-2 cells. Clinical trials testing therapeutics that block pathways of the alarmins are in progress.
Summary: To-date, only TSLP blockade has been reported in human clinical trials, and this approach has shown efficacy in asthmatic patients. Current body of evidence suggests that alarmins are useful upstream targets for treatment of asthma.