Asthma is defined as a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways. It affects 4 to 5 percent of the population worldwide. Symptoms of asthma are attacks of breathlessness and wheezing, airflow obstruction, and bronchial spasm. On the cellular level, asthma is characterized by allergic inflammation and structural changes in the airways including goblet cell hyperplasia and smooth muscle thickening. The allergic inflammation is dominated by immune cells such as eosinophils and allergen-specific TH2 lymphocytes. High amounts of inflammatory mediators such as TNF-α, interleukin (IL)-1, IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13 are produced and elevated in bronchoalveolar lavage of patients. These cytokines are known to support the inflammation and the allergen-specific TH2 response. Additionally, chemokines such as eotaxin, IL-8, RANTES, and MCP-1 are released to support the migration of further immune cells which keep the allergic inflammation and its symptoms going.
At Fraunhofer ITEM, we have different models to induce features of asthma, including ex-vivo human tissue models and in-vivo murine and non-human primate models.