Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The complexity of asthma is underscored by the number of cell types and mediators implicated in the pathogenesis of this heterogeneous syndrome. Type 2 CD4+ T-cells (Th2) and more recently, type 2 innate lymphoid cells dominate current descriptions of asthma pathogenesis. However, another important source of these type 2 cytokines, especially interleukin (IL)-5 and IL-13, are CD8+ T-cells, which are increasingly proposed to play an important role in asthma pathogenesis, because they are abundant and are comparatively insensitive to corticosteroids. Many common triggers of asthma exacerbations are mediated via corticosteroid-resistant pathways involving neutrophils and CD8+ T-cells. Extensive murine data reveal the plasticity of CD8+ T-cells and their capacity to enhance airway inflammation and airway dysfunction. In humans, Tc2 cells are predominant in fatal asthma, while in stable state, severe eosinophilic asthma is associated with greater numbers of Tc2 than Th2 cells in blood, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid and bronchial biopsies. Tc2 cells strongly express CRTH2, the receptor for prostaglandin D2, the cysteinyl leukotriene receptor 1 and the leukotriene B4 receptor. When activated, these elicit Tc2 cell chemotaxis and production of chemokines and type 2 and other cytokines, resulting directly or indirectly in eosinophil recruitment and survival. These factors position CD8+ Tc2 cells as important and underappreciated effector cells contributing to asthma pathogenesis. Here, we review recent advances and new insights in understanding the pro-asthmatic functions of CD8+ T-cells in eosinophilic asthma, especially corticosteroid-resistant asthma, and the molecular mechanisms underlying their pathologic effector function.

Original publication




Journal article


European respiratory review : an official journal of the European Respiratory Society

Publication Date





Respiratory Medicine Unit and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), Nuffield Dept of Medicine Experimental Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.