Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterised by an abnormal inflammatory response of the lung to noxious particles or gases. The cellular inflammatory response in COPD is characterised by an increased number of inflammatory cells in the lungs. Although the molecular and cellular mechanisms responsible for the development of COPD are not well understood; several mediators are assumed to regulate the activation and recruitment of these inflammatory cells into the lung of COPD patients particularly those belonging to the chemokine family. Inhibitors or blockers of chemokine and chemokine receptors are therefore of great interest as potential novel therapies for COPD and many are now in clinical development. A high degree of redundancy exists in the chemokine network and inhibition of a single chemokine or receptor may not be sufficient to block the inflammatory response. Despite this, animal studies suggest a strong rationale for inhibiting the chemokine network in COPD. As such, every leading pharmaceutical company maintains a significant interest in developing agents that regulate leukocyte navigation as potential anti-inflammatory drugs. Drugs and antibodies targeting chemokines and their receptors are generally still in early stages of development and the results of clinical trial are awaited with great interest. These agents may not only provide improved management of COPD but also, importantly, indicate proof-of-concept to further clarify the role of chemokines in the pathophysiology of COPD.
Keywords: Airway inflammation, alveolar macrophages, chemokines, chemokine receptor, chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease, lymphocytes, pathogenesis, small airways.
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