Background Enhanced expression of the suppressor of cytokine signalling (SOCS)-5 might be of therapeutic benefit for T-helper type 2 (Th2) dominant diseases, as its expression is reported to result in a reduction of Th2 differentiation in vitro due to the inhibition of IL-4 signalling.
Objective To investigate the regulatory role of SOCS-5 in vivo, we explored the phenotype of an experimental asthma model developed in SOCS-5 transgenic (Tg) mice.
Methods The SOCS-5 Tg mice or wild-type (WT) mice were sensitized and repeatedly challenged with ovalbumin (OVA). We examined bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF), lung specimens, and airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) to methacholine.
Results The production of IFN-γ by CD4+ T cells from unprimed SOCS-5 Tg mice was significantly increased in comparison with unprimed wild-type mice, indicating that SOCS-5 Tg mice have a Th1-polarizing condition under natural conditions. However, in an asthma model, significantly more eosinophils in the airways and higher levels of IL-5 and IL-13 in BALF were observed in the SOCS-5 Tg than the wild-type mice. AHR in the asthma model of SOCS-5 Tg was also more enhanced than that of wild-type mice. OVA-stimulated CD4+ T cells from the primed SOCS-5 Tg mice produced significantly more IL-5 and IL-13 than CD4+ T cells from wild-type mice.
Conclusion Our results demonstrate that the overexpression of SOCS-5 does not inhibit Th2 response, but rather augments the phenotype of the asthma model in vivo. This finding throws into question the therapeutic utility of using enhancement of SOCS-5 expression for Th2-dominant disease.