, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 113-124

The pharmacological modulation of allergen-induced asthma

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Abstract

Aeroallergens are the most common triggers for the development of asthma. Recent birth cohort studies have identified viral infections occurring against a background of aeroallergen sensitization as a potent risk factor for initiation of asthma. Viral infection enhances immunopathogenic potential of pre-existing inhalant allergy via modulating airway mucosal dendritic cells. By using an allergen inhalation challenge clinical model, studies have shown that the late asthma response (LAR) is associated with more pronounced allergen-induced airway inflammation and airway hyperresponsiveness. The degree of airway eosinophilia, regulated by bone marrow progenitor cells and interleukin-5 level, correlates with the magnitude of the LAR and the increase in hyperresponsiveness. Both myeloid and plasmacytoid dendritic cell subsets have been involved in the pathogenesis of allergen-induced LAR. Myeloid dendritic cells are responsible for the allergen presentation and induction of inflammation and plasmacytoid dendritic cells play a role in the resolution of allergen-induced inflammation. A variety of potential new classes of asthma medication has also been evaluated with the allergen inhalation challenge in mild asthmatic subjects. Examples are TPI ASM8, an inhaled anti-sense oligonucleotide drug product, which attenuated both early and LARs via inhibition of the target gene mRNA of chemokine receptor 3, and the common β chain of interleukin-3, interleukin-5 and granulocyte–macrophage colony-stimulating factor receptor. Anti-human antibody interleukin-13 (IM-638) significantly attenuated both early and late allergen-induced asthma response. Pitrakinra, which targets both interleukin-4 and interleukin-13, substantially diminishes allergen-induced airway responses. Allergen-induced airway responses are a valuable way to evaluate the activity of possible new therapies in asthmatic airways.