Asthma is a common respiratory disease worldwide. Cytokines play a crucial role in the immune system and the inflammatory response to asthma. Abnormal cytokine expression may lead to the development of asthma, which may contribute to pathologies of this disease. As cytokines exhibit pleiotropy and redundancy characteristics, we summarized them according to their biologic activity in asthma development. We classified cytokines in three stages as follows: Group 1 cytokines for the epithelial environment stage, Group 2 cytokines for the Th2 polarization stage, and Group 3 cytokines for the tissue damage stage. The recent cytokine-targeting therapy for clinical use (anti-cytokine antibody/anti-cytokine receptor antibody) and traditional medicinal herbs (pure compounds, single herb, or natural formula) have been discussed in this review. Studies of the Group 2 anti-cytokine/anti-cytokine receptor therapies are more prominent than the studies of the other two groups. Anti-cytokine antibodies/anti-cytokine receptor antibodies for clinical use can be applied for patients who did not respond to standard treatments. For traditional medicinal herbs, anti-asthmatic bioactive compounds derived from medicinal herbs can be divided into five classes: alkaloids, flavonoids, glycosides, polyphenols, and terpenoids. However, the exact pathways targeted by these natural compounds need to be clarified. Using relevant knowledge to develop more comprehensive strategies may provide appropriate treatment for patients with asthma in the future.
- Anti-Asthmatic Agents/pharmacology
- Asthma/drug therapy
- Cytokines/antagonists & inhibitors
- Inflammation Mediators/antagonists & inhibitors
- Plant Preparations/pharmacology
- Plants, Medicinal/chemistry
- Receptors, Cytokine/antagonists & inhibitors