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New insights into the generation of Th2 immunity and potential therapeutic targets for the treatment of asthma

Kaiko, Gerard E; Foster, Paul S

Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology: February 2011 - Volume 11 - Issue 1 - p 39–45
doi: 10.1097/ACI.0b013e328342322f
Mechanisms of allergy and adult asthma: Edited by Stephen T. Holgate and J. Andrew Grant

Purpose of review Asthma is a heterogeneous disease with unknown cause; however, allergic asthma is driven largely by Th2-type immune responses. The pathways that interact to induce Th1 and Th17-type immune responses are well understood; however, until recently the innate immune pathways involved in the induction of Th2-type immunity were unknown. In this review we sought to outline many of the recent advances in uncovering the cell and molecular mechanisms that generate Th2 responses.

Recent findings It is clear that the Th2 pathway can no longer be considered a ‘default pathway’ of the lung immune system as multiple cells and cytokines have now been identified that work to actively instruct Th2 differentiation. Basophils and dendritic cells have been investigated for their critical role in Th2 induction, and newly identified cell subsets have also been shown to play an important function in Th2 responses. The identification of the Th2-inducing cytokines IL-25, IL-33 and thymic stromal lymphopoietin has also accelerated studies examining the development of Th2 responses in asthma.

Summary Studies of the role played by the innate immune system in the induction of Th2 responses have begun to unravel the cellular and molecular mechanisms potentially underlying the pathogenesis of allergic asthma. Further study in this area may lead to the discovery of new therapeutics for the treatment of allergic disease.

aCentre for Asthma and Respiratory Diseases, School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy, Faculty of Health, The University of Newcastle, Australia

bCooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Asthma and Airways, Newcastle, Australia

Correspondence to Paul S. Foster, Centre for Asthma and Respiratory Diseases, School of Biomedical Science, Faculty of Health University of Newcastle, and Hunter Medical Research Institute, Newcastle, NSW 2300, Australia Tel: +61 2 49138719 or 49138137; fax: +61 2 49138329; e-mail:

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