Eosinophils in the pathogenesis of allergic airways disease
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Eosinophils are traditionally thought to form part of the innate immune response against parasitic helminths acting through the release of cytotoxic granule proteins. However, they are also a central feature in asthma. From their development in the bone marrow to their recruitment to the lung via chemokines and cytokines, they form an important component of the inflammatory milieu observed in the asthmatic lung following allergen challenge. A wealth of studies has been performed in both patients with asthma and in mouse models of allergic pulmonary inflammation to delineate the role of eosinophils in the allergic response. Although the long-standing association between eosinophils and the induction of airway hyper-responsiveness remains controversial, recent studies have shown that eosinophils may also promote airway remodelling. In addition, emerging evidence suggests that the eosinophil may also serve to modulate the immune response. Here we review the highly co-ordinated nature of eosinophil development and trafficking and the evolution of the eosinophil as a multi-factoral leukocyte with diverse functions in asthma.