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The results of this present thesis show a deficiency of IL-10 production in alveolar macrophages in asthma. The reduced IL-10 expression on protein and m-RNA level correlated with an increased production of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-α, MIP1- α and GM-CSF. These observations implicate an impaired IL-10 synthesis in asthma with a subsequent prolongation of the inflammatory response. This leads to the conclusion that a dysbalance between pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines is present in asthma and may be therefore of pathogenetic importance. The reduced sensitivity of alveolar macrophages to the inhibitory effects of exogenous IL-10 compared to peripheral blood monocytes may be caused by different signal transduction mechanisms.

The expression of the proinflammatory cytokines RANTES and IL-8 in cultured human airway smooth muscle cells led to the conclusion that airway smooth muscle cells may act beside their contractile function as immunomodulatory cells in the pathogenesis of asthma. The inhibitory effects of IL-10 and IL-13 on the synthesis of proinflammatory cytokines (RANTES, IL-8, MIP1-α) in immigrated inflammatory cells and resident cells such as airway smooth muscle cells have been shown in several publications that are part of the present thesis. The numerous antiinflammatory effects of IL-10 on different inflammatory cell systems such as monocytes/macrophages and smooth muscle cells underline the pathogenetic importance of this cytokine. The molecular mechanisms that mediate the IL-10 effects involve the transcription factors NF-κB and the Stat-System. Future studies are needed to determine the molecular mechanisms of the anti-inflammatory effects of IL-10 and IL-13 more deeply and to evaluate their application for the therapy of chronic inflammatory pulmonary diseases.

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