Stewart J. Levine, MD; Sally E. Wenzel, MD
New therapeutic approaches are needed for patients with severe asthma who are refractory to standard therapy comprising high doses of inhaled corticosteroids plus long-acting Î²2-agonists. Current treatment guidelines for patients with severe asthma from the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program recommend the addition of oral corticosteroids, which are associated with substantial morbidity, and, for those with allergic asthma, anti-IgE. Genetic and translational studies, as well as clinical trials, suggest that in a subgroup of patients, the pathobiology of severe asthma is mediated by immune pathways driven by T-helper 2 (Th2)â€“type CD4+ T cells, which produce a characteristic repertoire of interleukins (ILs), including IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13. Therefore, biological modifiers of Th2-type ILs, such as monoclonal antibodies, soluble receptors, and receptor antagonists, are a rational strategy for developing new treatment approaches but will need to be targeted to selected patients in whom the appropriate Th2 immune pathway is â€œactive.â€ The benefits of immune-modifier therapies targeting Th2-type cytokines, however, need to be weighed against the toxicities associated with inhibition of key biological pathways, as well as the expense of future medications. Therefore, future clinical trials need to clearly establish the efficacy and safety of biological modifiers of Th2 immune pathways before these approaches can enter routine clinical practice for the treatment of severe asthma.
Levine SJ, Wenzel SE. Narrative Review: The Role of Th2 Immune Pathway Modulation in the Treatment of Severe Asthma and Its Phenotypes. Ann Intern Med. 2010;152:232–237. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-152-4-201002160-00008
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2010;152(4):232-237.
Asthma, Prevention/Screening, Pulmonary/Critical Care.
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Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
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