Biologics and the lung: TSLP and other epithelial-derived cytokines in asthma

Patrick Mitchell, Paul O'Byrne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Asthma is a chronic airway inflammatory disorder with characteristic symptoms of dyspnea, wheeze, chest tightness and cough, and physiological abnormalities of variable airway obstruction, airway hyperresponsiveness, and in some patients with chronic long standing disease reduced lung function. The physiological abnormalities are due to chronic airway inflammation and underlying structural changes to the airway wall. The interaction between the airway epithelium and the environment is crucial to the pathobiology of asthma. Several recent discoveries have highlighted a crucial role of airway epithelial derived cytokines such as interleukin (IL)-25, IL-33 and thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP). These cytokines are collectively known as epithelial "alarmins", which act solely or in concert to activate and potentiate the innate and humoral arms of the immune system in the presence of actual or perceive damage. Understanding the role of alarmins and how they are activated and released may allow the development of novel new therapeutics to treat asthma. This review describes the interactions between inhaled air, the pulmonary microbiome, airway epithelial cell layer and the alarmins, IL-25, IL-33 and TSLP. There is already compelling evidence for a role of TSLP in the airway responses to environmental allergens in allergic asthmatics, as well as in maintaining airway eosinophilic inflammation in these subjects. Further work is required to develop human monoclonal antibodies (hMabs) directed against IL-25 and IL-33 or their receptors, to help understand their role in the initiation and/or persistence of asthma.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberPMID: 27365223
Pages (from-to)104-112
JournalPharmacology & therapeutics
Issue numberJanuary
Early online date27 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017


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