Asthma is an increasingly common respiratory condition characterized by reversible airway obstruction, bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airway inflammation with a clear unmet need for more effective therapy. Eosinophilic asthma is a phenotype of the condition that features increased blood or sputum eosinophils whose numbers correlate with disease severity. Several lines of evidence are now emerging, which implicate increased persistence of eosinophils in the lungs of patients with asthma as a consequence of inhibition of and defects in the apoptotic process, together with impaired apoptotic cell removal mechanisms. This article will update our knowledge of the mechanisms controlling eosinophil apoptosis and clearance, together with evidence implicating defects in apoptosis and pro-inflammatory cell removal in asthma. Recent developments in novel therapies for asthma that target eosinophil apoptotic and/or clearance pathways will also be discussed.
- phagocytic removal