Lung DCs Legitimate Targets For Treating Asthma

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allergic asthmaAllergic asthma is caused by an unwanted immune response known as a Th2 cell response. Most treatments for asthma currently target this Th2 cell response and its downstream effects. However, immune cells known as dendritic cells (DCs) are crucial activators of all T cell responses, including the Th2 cell response in asthma, so therapies that target DC function in the airways might represent a new way to treat individuals with allergic asthma.

Now, in a study appearing in the November issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Bart Lambrecht and colleagues from Erasmus University, The Netherlands, have shown that inhalation of the immunosuppressive drug FTY720 suppresses the symptoms of allergic asthma in a mouse model of the disease.

Inhalation of FTY720 suppressed the allergic Th2 cell response in the lungs by preventing lung DCs from leaving the lungs and going to the site at which they activate the allergic Th2 cell response. This demonstration that targeting lung DCs can suppress allergic asthma in mice might open new avenues of research for the development of drugs that target DC function to treat individuals with allergic asthma.

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