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Airway Interleukin-33 and type 2 cytokines in adult patients with acute asthma

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BACKGROUND: Several animal studies, and one inoculation study in adult asthmatics have shown that interleukin-33 (IL-33) is a major contributor to type-2 inflammation in acute asthma. However, the link between IL-33 and type-2 inflammation has not been shown in naturally occurring asthma exacerbations.

OBJECTIVES: To determine if airway IL-33 is associated with type-2 inflammation measured by type-2 cytokines, FeNO and sputum eosinophils in patients presenting to the Emergency Department with an asthma exacerbations.

METHODS: Adult patients hospitalized due to acute asthma were enrolled. Upper airways were sampled with nasal swabs and lower airways with induced sputum. Cytokines were measured at protein level using a Luminex® assay and mRNA expression level using droplet-digital-PCR. Airway sampling was repeated four weeks after exacerbation.

RESULTS: At the time of exacerbation, upper airway IL-33 correlated with upper airway IL-5 and IL-13 (R = 0.84, p < 0.01 and R = 0.76, p < 0.01, respectively) and with lower airway IL-13 (R = 0.49, p = 0.03). Similar associations were observed for mRNA expression. Lower airway IL-33 positively correlated with lower airway IL-13 (R = 0.84, p < 0.01). IL-13 and IL-33 were positively correlated with FeNO, and IL-5 with eosinophils. The association between IL-33 and type-2 cytokines were still present four weeks after exacerbation.

CONCLUSION: This is the first study to demonstrate that airway IL-33 is associated with type-2 cytokines in naturally occurring asthma exacerbations in adults, providing in vivo evidence supporting that IL-33 may be driving type-2 inflammation in acute asthma. Thus supporting IL-33 as a potential future drug target due to its role, upstream in the immunological cascade.

Original languageEnglish
JournalRespiratory medicine
Volume140
Pages (from-to)50-56
Number of pages7
ISSN0954-6111
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018

ID: 54707243