Indexed on: 28 May '08Published on: 28 May '08Published in: Expert reviews in molecular medicine
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways, involving recurrent episodes of airway obstruction and wheezing. A common pathological feature in asthma is the presence of a characteristic allergic airway inflammatory response involving extensive leukocyte infiltration, mucus overproduction and airway hyper-reactivity. The pathogenesis of allergic airway inflammation is complex, involving multiple cell types such as T helper 2 cells, regulatory T cells, eosinophils, dendritic cells, mast cells, and parenchymal cells of the lung. The cellular response in allergic airway inflammation is controlled by a broad range of bioactive mediators, including IgE, cytokines and chemokines. The asthmatic allergic inflammatory response has been a particular focus of efforts to develop novel therapeutic agents. Animal models are widely used to investigate inflammatory mechanisms. Although these models are not perfect replicas of clinical asthma, such studies have led to the development of numerous novel therapeutic agents, of which some have already been successful in clinical trials.