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Chemokines and asthma.

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Department of Pathology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0602, USA.


Asthma is a complex disease resulting from a combination of factors including genetics, environmental exposure to allergens and prior infection with respiratory viruses. Worldwide, asthma is considered to be one of the leading causes of chronic childhood illness with young children living in poverty in urban environments being particularly severely affected. A common feature of the response to allergen challenge in asthmatic individuals is pattern of intense inflammation in the airways and a group of chemotactic cytokines, also known as chemokines, are believed to play a central role at multiple stages of this inflammatory response. Identification of the role of individual chemokines in the allergic response has been complicated by the diversity of chemokine production and the promiscuous pattern of chemokine-chemokine receptor interactions. However, chemokines have been shown to mediate the differential recruitment of leukocytes to the airways and regulate activation of both recruited and resident cells in the lungs. As the role of chemokines and their receptors at each stage of allergic inflammation become more clearly defined, it becomes increasingly likely that novel anti-inflammatory agents which modulate chemokine-chemokine receptor interactions will be developed and prove to be therapeutically beneficial.

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