Expression of interleukin (IL)-4 and IL-5 proteins in asthma induced by toluene diisocyanate (TDI)


Dr. P. Maestrelli, Istituto di Medicina del Lavoro, Universitè degli Studi di Padova, via. Facciolati, 71, 35127 Padova, Italy.


Background TDI-induced asthma exhibits clinical, functional and morphological similarities with allergen-induced asthma, suggesting that an immunological mechanism is involved in the sensitization to TDL In vitro studies using the technique of cloning lymphocytes demonstrated that a great proportion of T-cell clones derived from bronchial mucosa of subjects with TDI-induced asthma produced IL-5 and interferon-gamma, but not IL-4, upon in vitro stimulation.

Objectives To investigate in vivo the role of IL-4 and IL-5 on the inflammatory response of the bronchial mucosa to TDI in sensitized subjects, we performed a quantitative analysis of bronchial biopsies.

Methods We obtained bronchial biopsies from six subjects with TDI asthrha 48 h after an asthmatic reaction induced by TDI challenge (challenged group), in six subjects with TDI asthma 1–4 weeks after the last exposure to TDI (chronic group), and in six non-asthmatic controls. The number of eosinophils, mast cells, T-lymphocytes, and IL-4 and IL-5 protein positive cells was determined by immunohistochemistry in the area 100 μn beneath the epithelial basement membrane.

Results The characteristic increase of submucosal eosinophils, but not of mast cells and T-lymphocytes, was observed in the subjects with TDI-induced asthma when compared with controls. No differences were detected between the two groups of asthmatics. In the subjects with TDI-induced asthma, cell immunoreactivity for IL-5 was increased when compared with normal controls. There was no difference in the expression of IL-5 protein between challenged and chronic asthmatics. In contrast, the expression of IL-4 protein was increased only in the asthmatic subjects tested after recent exposure to TDI.

Conclusions We demonstrated that TDI asthma 48 h after specific bronchial challenge was associated with increased numbers of cells expressing IL-4 and IL-5, whereas chronic TDI asthma was associated with increased expression of IL-5, but not of IL-4. The results suggest that subjects who developed TDI asthma exhibit increased production of IL-5 even in the absence of a recent trigger by the exogenous sensitizer and that production of TH2-like cytokines in TDI-induced asthma may not always be co-ordinately regulated in vivo.