Interleukin-4/interleukin-13 versus interleukin-5: A comparison of molecular targets in biologic therapy for the treatment of severe asthma

Albert Y. Wu, Sanjiv Sur, J. Andrew Grant, Julia W. Tripple

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Purpose of reviewAsthma is a chronic, inflammatory disorder of the airways caused by a complex interplay of various biologic mechanisms. Several monoclonal antibody therapies targeting interleukin (IL)-4/IL-13 and IL-5 cytokine pathways have been developed for the treatment of severe eosinophilic asthma. As individuals can display biomarkers and clinical features characteristic of several asthma phenotypes, selection of anoptimal biologic can be difficult.Recent findingsDupilumab, a monoclonal antibody that binds to the α subunit of the IL-4 receptor (IL-4Rα) and has been approved for the treatment of adults with severe atopic dermatitis, has been shown in recent phase 3 trials to also have significant clinical benefits in the asthmatic population irrespective of baseline eosinophil counts.SummaryAs monoclonal antibodies targeting either IL-4 or IL-13 cytokines individually have failed to demonstrate significant clinical benefits, biologics that target cytokine receptors may be more efficacious compared to those that target cytokines. Furthermore, inhibition of the IL-4/IL-13 signaling cascades may disrupt a broader Th2 inflammatory response compared to a more selective impairment of eosinophil proliferation and activity via blockage of the IL-5 pathway. Future research with independently funded, head-to-head trials of approved biologics is needed to elucidate a favorable therapeutic option.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-37
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent opinion in allergy and clinical immunology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019


  • biologics
  • interleukin-13
  • interleukin-4
  • interleukin-5
  • severe asthma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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