Send to

Choose Destination
Adv Immunol. 1992;51:323-82.

The pathobiology of bronchial asthma.

Author information

Department of Allergy and Allied Respiratory Disorders, U.M.D.S., Guy's Hospital, London, England.


Early studies of patients dying from status asthmaticus revealed marked inflammation of the bronchial tree. Subsequent histological studies of the airways and examination of bronchoalveolar lavage fluid of subjects with mild asthma have confirmed the presence of airway inflammation in life. There is epithelial edema and desquamation, subepithelial deposition of collagen and fibronectin, and an inflammatory cell infiltrate in the mucosa. There are increased numbers of activated eosinophils, CD25-positive T lymphocytes, and immature macrophages with the phenotypic characteristics of blood monocytes. An increased expression of HLA class II is present on epithelium, macrophages, and other infiltrating cells. The severity of clinical asthma correlates with several measurements of the severity of the inflammatory response, suggesting a crucial role for airway inflammation in the pathophysiology of the disease. There is considerable interest and research into the mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis and maintenance of the inflammatory response in asthma. The development and maintenance of the inflammatory response in asthma is likely to be a consequence of a complicated interaction between various cells and the mediators they generate. The characterization of an ever-increasing number of cytokines is of particular interest. Interleukin-3, interleukin-5, and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor are hematopoietic growth factors that increase the survival of eosinophils in culture and enhance certain eosinophil functions, such as mediator generation and toxicity. Alveolar macrophages derived from asthmatic subjects produce twofold to threefold more GM-CSF than do those from normal control subjects. Using in situ hybridization, the presence of IL-5 mRNA has been demonstrated in bronchial biopsies from asthmatic subjects. Thus IL-3, IL-5, and GM-CSF influence eosinophil function and survival, and may be generated by T lymphocytes and/or alveolar macrophages within the airways in asthma. In addition to these three cytokines, IL-4 and interferon-gamma may be crucial to the regulation of IgE biosynthesis. TNF-alpha and IL-1 are potentially important in the up-regulation of endothelial adhesion molecules. An important step in the recruitment of leukocytes to an inflammatory focus is margination to the vascular endothelium. Our understanding of the molecular events involved in migration of leukocytes to an inflammatory focus has been advanced by the discovery and characterization of a variety of cell adhesion molecules. The potential role of ELAM-1 and ICAM-1 in allergic inflammation is suggested by their up-regulation on vascular endothelium in association with late cutaneous responses to allergen and by their role in certain primate models of asthma.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center