Eosinophilic inflammation of the airways is a key characteristic of asthma. The balance between eosinophil recruitment into the lung and their removal from the lungs determines the number of eosinophils in the airways. Apoptosis or programmed cell death is of importance in the removal of eosinophils from the lungs. In asthma, eosinophil apoptosis is delayed. Glucocorticoids enhance eosinophil apoptosis, whereas β2- agonists may delay apoptosis in eosinophils. Detailed knowledge on the mechanisms that regulate this process gives an opportunity to develop specific asthma therapies targeting the eosinophil. This review aims to focus on the signalling leading to or preventing apoptosis in human eosinophils as well as reviews the current evidence on the regulation of eosinophil apoptosis and/or survival in allergic diseases.
Keywords: apoptosis, asthma, agonists, eosinophils, glucocorticoids, protein kinases
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