IL-5 is a key cytokine for eosinophil maturation, recruitment, activation, and possibly the development of inflammation in asthma. High concentrations of IL-5 are present in the airway after Ag challenge, but the responsiveness of airway eosinophils to IL-5 is not well characterized. The objectives of this study were to establish, following airway Ag challenge: 1) the expression of membrane (m)IL-5Rα on bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) eosinophils; 2) the responsiveness of these cells to exogenous IL-5; and 3) the presence of soluble (s)IL-5Rα in BAL fluid. To accomplish these goals, blood and BAL eosinophils were obtained from atopic subjects 48 h after segmental bronchoprovocation with Ag. There was a striking reduction in mIL-5Rα on airway eosinophils compared with circulating cells. Furthermore, sIL-5Rα concentrations were elevated in BAL fluid, but steady state levels of sIL-5Rα mRNA were not increased in BAL compared with blood eosinophils. Finally, BAL eosinophils were refractory to IL-5 for ex vivo degranulation, suggesting that the reduction in mIL-5Rα on BAL eosinophils may regulate IL-5-mediated eosinophil functions. Together, the loss of mIL-5Rα, the presence of sIL-5Rα, and the blunted functional response (degranulation) of eosinophils to IL-5 suggest that when eosinophils are recruited to the airway, regulation of their functions becomes IL-5 independent. These observations provide a potential explanation for the inability of anti-IL-5 therapy to suppress airway hyperresponsiveness to inhaled Ag, despite a reduction in eosinophil recruitment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy