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Respir Res. 2001;2(5):265-8. Epub 2001 Jul 12.

Neurotrophins in bronchial asthma.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Chemistry and Molecular Diagnostics, Central Laboratory, Hospital of the Philipps University, Baldingerstrasse, D-35033 Marburg, Germany.


Allergic bronchial asthma (BA) is characterized by chronic airway inflammation, development of airway hyperreactivity and recurrent reversible airway obstruction. T-helper 2 cells and their products have been shown to play an important role in this process. In contrast, the mechanisms by which immune cells interact with the cells residing in lung and airways, such as neurons, epithelial or smooth muscle cells, still remains uncertain. Sensory and motor neurons innervating the lung exhibit a great degree of functional plasticity in BA defined as "neuronal plasticity". These neurons control development of airway hyperresponsiveness and acute inflammatory responses, resulting in the concept of "neurogenic inflammation". Such quantitative and/or qualitative changes in neuronal functions are mediated to a great extent by a family of cytokines, the neurotrophins, which in turn are produced by activated immune cells, among others in BA. We have therefore developed the concept that neurotrophins such as nerve growth factor and brain-derived neurotrophic factor link pathogenic events in BA to dysfunctions of the immune and nervous system.

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