Targeting Interleukin-5 or Interleukin-5Rα: Safety Considerations

Diego Bagnasco, Matteo Ferrando, Marco Caminati, Alice Bragantini, Francesca Puggioni, Gilda Varricchi, Giovanni Passalacqua, Giorgio Walter Canonica

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Asthma is a highly prevalent chronic disease of the airways; approximately 10% of patients with asthma will experience a severe form of the disease. New understanding of the pathogenesis of asthma has enabled the development of novel drugs and provided hope for patients with asthma. Interleukin (IL)-5 and IL-5 receptor subunit α (IL-5-Rα) plays a crucial role in the development, maturation, and operation of eosinophils so were the first important therapeutic target of these new drugs. While the results of early clinical trials of these drugs were not promising, results improved once researchers discovered the drugs worked best in patients with high eosinophil levels. Patients treated with both anti-IL-5 and IL-5-Rα experienced significant decreases in exacerbations. Trials have also demonstrated promising safety profiles; adverse events have been few and frequently only observed with placebo or considered unrelated to the study drug. The positive efficacy and safety profiles of these drugs has led to trials with interesting results in other diseases that are also secondary to the action of eosinophils: Churg–Strauss syndrome, hypereosinophilic syndrome, nasal polyposis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, atopic dermatitis, and esophagitis. In this review, we explore the main clinical trials of anti-IL-5 and IL-5-Rα, both in asthma and in other pathologies, with particular reference to the interesting safety and efficacy results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-570
Number of pages12
JournalDrug Safety
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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