Interleukin (IL)-4 and IL-13 share many biological activities. To some extent, this is because they both signal via a shared receptor, IL-4Rα. Ligation of IL-4Rα results in activation of Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription factor 6 (STAT6) and Insulin Receptor Substrate (IRS) molecules. In T- and B-cells, IL- 4Rα signaling contributes to cell-mediated and humoral aspects of allergic inflammation. It has recently become clear that IL-4 and IL-13 produced in inflamed tissues activate signaling in normally resident cells of the airway. The purpose of this review is to critically evaluate the contributions of IL-4- and IL-13-induced tissue responses, especially those mediated by STAT6, to some of the pathologic features of asthma including eosinophilic inflammation, airway hyperresponsiveness, subepithelial fibrosis and excessive mucus production. We also review the functions of some recently identified IL-4- and/or IL-13-induced mediators that provide some detail on molecular mechanisms and suggest an important contribution to host defense.
Keywords: IL-4, IL-13, STAT6, allergy, asthma, inflammation, airway hyperresponsiveness, fibrosis, mucus
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