Asthma: An Undermined State of Immunodeficiency

Int Rev Immunol. 2019;38(2):70-78. doi: 10.1080/08830185.2019.1588267. Epub 2019 Apr 2.


Asthma is a heterogeneous chronic respiratory disease characterized by an increased burden of infections. Respiratory tract infections associated with an increased risk for asthma especially when occurring in the first months of life, also represent the most common cause of asthma exacerbations. The association between asthma and the increased frequency of infections and microbiota dysbiosis might be explained by a common mechanism, such as an underlying immune system defect. Apart from the well-established association between primary immunodeficiencies and asthma, several alterations in the immune response following infection have also been observed in asthmatic patients. An impairment in lung epithelial barrier integrity exists and is associated with both an increased susceptibility to infections and the development of asthma. Asthmatic patients are also found to have a deficient interferon (IFN) response upon infection. Additionally, defects in Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling are observed in asthma and are correlated with both recurrent infections and asthma development. In this review, we summarize the common pathophysiological background of asthma and infections, highlighting the importance of an underlying immune system defect that predispose individuals to recurrent infections and asthma.

Keywords: Asthma; Toll-like receptors; infection; interferons; microbiota.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asthma / etiology*
  • Asthma / metabolism
  • Biomarkers
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Deficiency Syndromes / complications*
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / complications
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / etiology


  • Biomarkers
  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators