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IL-4 and IL-13: their pathological roles in allergic diseases and their potential in developing new therapies.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Saga Medical School, 5-1-1, Nabeshima, Saga, 849-8501, Japan.


The incidence of allergic diseases has dramatically increased in recent decades, and it is socially and medically important to establish more useful strategies to overcome allergic disorders. Various kinds of drugs are utilized for allergic patients; however, some cases are unresponsive to these drugs and in others there are undesired adverse effects. On the other hand, a substantial body of evidence has accumulated pointing to the pivotal role of Th2-cytokines, interleukin (IL)-4, and IL-13, in the pathogenesis of bronchial asthma. The evidence is categorized as (1) expression of these cytokines in the bronchial lesions, (2) genetic association of the signaling molecules of these cytokines, (3) analyses of mouse models. In addition, the molecular mechanism of the signal transduction of these cytokines has also been well characterized. Based on such information, IL-4 and IL-13 have emerged as promising means of improving allergic states, and several IL-4/IL-13 antagonists have been developed, among which soluble IL-4 receptor is now in human trials. Identifying the structure of the IL-13 variant and of the IL-4/IL-13-inducing genes would be of great use. It is expected that in the near future, several drugs will emerge based on these strategies, which will give us wider choice in treating patients, depending on the pathogenesis of the diseases.

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