The role of IgE in asthma

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Asthma is a multifactorial and complex disease in which allergic factors and non-allergic triggers interact and result in bronchial obstruction and inflammation. Allergenic sensitization is important in the development of asthma and, although links between inhalant allergy and asthma have been known for many years, they have recently been re-emphasized. Indoor allergens are associated with asthma prelvalence, severity and exacerbations whereas outdoor allergens such as pollens are associated with exacerbations. Moreover, there is a link between total IgE and asthma which appears to be independent of allergen sensitization. One of the typical aspects of airway inflammation of asthma is the infiltration of the airway wall by T helper type 2 (Th2) cells. These cells are attracted to inflammatory sites by adhesion molecules and chemokines among which CCR3 and CXCR4 receptors appear to be of importance. Differentiation of B cells into IgE-secreting plasma cells is a complex cascade of events in which cytokines play a crucial role. Both IL-4 and IL-13 are inducing IgE synthesis whereas IFN-γ and IL-12 are blocking IgE synthesis. IgE production by B cells not only requires the presence of IL-4 or IL-13, but also a physical interaction between T and B cells, involving a number of surface and adhesion molecules such as CD40-CD40L and CD28/CD80. Production of TH2-cytokines is not restricted to T cells as basophils and mast cells can produce them indicating that these cells may be of importance in the synthesis of IgE.

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