[en] BACKGROUND: Although mild to moderate asthma is known to be Th2 driven, cytokines produced in refractory asthma might not fit the classical Th2 pattern. METHODS: The aim of our study was to assess the cytokine production by sputum and blood cells from 15 refractory asthmatics (American Thoracic Society Criteria) compared to 15 mild untreated and 17 moderate treated asthmatics and 22 healthy subjects. Spontaneous production of interleukin (IL)-4, IL-6, IL-10, interferon-gamma, and tumor necrosis factor alpha was measured by immunotrapping after 24 h sputum or blood cell culture. RESULTS: Moderate and refractory asthmatics were both characterized by a lower production of IL-6 from their airway cells compared to healthy subjects. However, the difference was no longer significant when expressing the results per gram of sputum. No significant difference between the three groups was found regarding other cytokines. As for cytokine production from blood, the three groups of asthmatics exhibited raised production of IL-4 when compared to healthy subjects, and this was true when results were expressed per blood volume or after normalization for total leukocyte cell count. Moderate asthmatics exhibited greater production of IL-10 when compared to refractory asthmatics and healthy subjects when results were normalized for total leukocyte cell count. CONCLUSIONS: Sputum cells from moderate and refractory asthmatics release less IL-6. While the systemic overproduction of IL-4 was observed through the all spectrum of asthma severity, moderate asthmatics exhibited greater systemic IL-10 production compared to refractory asthmatics.