Exposure to cockroaches is a major risk factor for asthma. Products from cockroaches may contain proteases and ligands for pattern recognition receptors. These molecules may activate airway inflammatory cells, such as eosinophils, that are involved in asthma. Among inner-city children, cockroach allergens play an especially important role in increasing asthma morbidity. The molecular mechanism for this association between cockroach exposure and asthma is not fully understood. Enzymatic activities from cockroaches activate inflammatory cells in the airways and may also exacerbate certain human airway diseases, such as asthma. We recently reported that cockroach extracts contain pepstatin A-sensitive proteases that activate PAR-2 and induce activation and degranulation of human eosinophils. This review focuses on the effects of cockroach on various inflammatory cells, including eosinophils, epithelial cells, fibroblasts, dendritic cells, and T cells, in allergic reactions.

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