BACKGROUND The chemoattractant cytokines (chemokines) are ubiquitous chemotactic molecules that play major roles in acute and chronic inflammatory conditions. They are divided into 4 families defined by the number of amino acids between the N-terminal cysteine residues (CC, CXC, CCX, and CX3C). The largest families are the CC and the CXC chemokines. The CXC chemokine family is a pleiotropic family of molecules that are involved in the trafficking of various leukocyte subsets, angiogenesis, and vascular remodeling.1
Eotaxin (also called CCL11) is a CC (double cysteine) chemokine that was originally isolated as the predominant eosinophil chemoattractant in the lung lavage fluid of sensitized guinea pigs after allergic exposure. Eotaxin is unique among eosinophil-active chemoattractants in that it specifically attracts eosinophils. Many cell types including lymphocytes, macrophages, bronchial smooth muscle cells, endothelial cells and eosinophils, are able to produce this chemokine, predominantly after cytokine stimulation.2 Eotaxin also regulates the chemiotaxis and, in some conditions, activation of basophils, mast cells and T lymphocytes. Chemokine receptors are named from their ligand families, thus the CC chemokine eotaxin binds to the CCR3 receptor which is expressed on eosinophis, mast cells, Th2 type lymphocytes and even on keratinocytes. It seems that eotaxin is one of the most important cytokines involved in tissue inflammation playing a central role in the pathogenesis of allergic airway diseases (asthma and rhinitis), in inflammatory bowel disease and gastrointestinal allergic hypersensitivity and recently it has been proposed as a therapeutical target for these conditions.3
1. Liu, L. et al: Curr Top Dev Biol. 68:149-81, 2005
2. Rothenberg, M.E.: Am. J. Respir. Cell Mol. Biol. 21:291-5, 1999
3. Conroy, D.M. & Williams, T.J.: Respiratory Research 2:150-6, 2001
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