Background FcɛRI expression by monocytes can affect monocyte function via multiple mechanisms, thereby potentially influencing the generation of allergic inflammation. Previous studies on the in vivo regulation of monocyte FcɛRI expression by ambient IgE have yielded conflicting results.
Objective We hypothesized that monocyte FcɛRI expression is limited to a specific monocyte subset, and that within that subset FcɛRI surface expression is correlated to serum IgE.
Methods Study 1: Blood was obtained from non-allergic subjects (n=14) and subjects with allergic asthma (n=18), hypereosinophilic syndrome (n=2), hyper-IgE syndrome (n=6), and helminth infection (n=4). Study 2: Blood was obtained from allergic subjects in a clinical trial of omalizumab before and during study drug treatment. Monocyte surface FcɛRI expression was measured using flow cytometry.
Results FcɛRI expression was significantly greater in the CD2high vs. CD2low monocyte subsets (31% vs. 1.9% median FcɛRI+, respectively). In asthmatic and non-atopic healthy control subjects, CD2low monocytes expressed little or undetectable FcɛRI. In study 1, FcɛRI expression was highly correlated to serum IgE in the CD2high, but not in the CD2low monocyte subpopulation (R values of 0.67 and 0.41, respectively). In study 2, omalizumab, but not placebo, caused a significant and sustained decline in FcɛRI expression within the CD2high monocyte subset.
Conclusions CD2 defines a monocyte subset with high FcɛRI expression, whose magnitude is highly correlated to serum IgE. As such, this new description of CD2high monocytes as FcɛRI-bearing cells suggests that they may be potential targets of anti-IgE immunomodulatory therapies.