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Basic science for the chest physician
Innate helper cells: a novel cell type essential in the initiation of asthma?
  1. Sejal Saglani
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sejal Saglani, Wellcome Intermediate Clinical Fellow, Clinical Senior Lecturer Respiratory Paediatrics, Imperial College London, 374 Sir Alexander Fleming Building, Exhibition Road, London SW7 2AZ, UK; s.saglani{at}


The role of the innate immune system in asthma initiation is being increasingly recognised, and several innate epithelial cytokines, such as interleukin 33 (IL-33), IL-25 and thymic stromal lymphopoietin, have been described as important in asthma pathogenesis. However, until now, the mechanism by which these cytokines initiate Th2 responses and form a link with the adaptive immune system was undetermined. The recent discovery of a new group of non-T, non-B innate helper cells, which are induced by epithelial innate cytokines and secrete the Th2 cytokines IL-4 and IL-13, may provide a mechanism by which the innate and adaptive immune systems become activated in asthma.

  • Asthma
  • innate immunity
  • nuocytes
  • mediators
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  • Funding The Wellcome Trust, UK. Grant number 083586/Z/07/Z. SS is funded by a Wellcome Intermediate Clinical Fellowship.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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