Co-stimulatory molecules as potential targets for therapeutic intervention in allergic airway disease


Eckard Hamelmann, Department of Pediatric Pneumology and Immunology, University Hospital Charité, Augustenburger Platz 1, 13353, Berlin, Germany.


Airway inflammation is a characteristic feature of allergic asthma. Central to the initiation and progression of the inflammatory process are allergen-specific T lymphocytes that attract eosinophils, mast cells, and B cells to the airways by the secretion of specific cytokines. The direction of T cell responses is influenced by co-stimulatory signals that modulate the antigen-specific signal delivered by the T cell receptor. In addition to the prototypic co-stimulatory molecule, CD28, a number of newly identified co-stimulatory molecules and their ligands have now been characterized. Over the past 5 years, the role of these molecules in the pathophysiology of allergen-mediated sensitization and airway inflammation has been extensively studied in animal models of allergic asthma. The aim of this review is to provide a detailed overview on recent studies in mice and preliminary findings in man and to discuss the potential therapeutic and preventive treatment strategies offered by interactions with co-stimulatory molecules for patients with allergic airway diseases.