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Effect of inhaled interleukin-5 on eosinophil progenitors in the bronchi and bone marrow of asthmatic and non-asthmatic volunteers


Prof. A. B. Kay, Leukocyte Biology Section, NHLI Division, Imperial College London, South Kensington Campus London SW7 2AZ, UK.


Background Asthma is characterized by increases in mature eosinophils and their progenitors within the bronchus and bone marrow. IL-5 plays a key role in eosinophil development in the bone marrow and at the site of allergic inflammation. We therefore studied the effects of nebulized IL-5 on eosinophils, their progenitors and in situ haemopoiesis within the airway and bone marrow.

Methods Nine atopic asthmatics and 10 non-atopic non-asthmatic control volunteers inhaled 10 μg of IL-5 or placebo via a nebulizer in a double-blind, randomized, cross-over study. Bronchoscopy, bone marrow aspiration and peripheral blood sampling were performed 24 h after nebulization. Four weeks later, volunteers inhaled the alternative solution and underwent a repeat bronchoscopy and bone marrow aspiration.

Results Inhalation of IL-5 significantly decreased CD34+/IL-5Rα mRNA+ cells within the bronchial mucosa and the percentage of CD34+ cells that were CCR3+ within the bone marrow of atopic asthmatic, but not control, volunteers. Inhalation of IL-5 also induced a significant increase in bronchial mucosal eosinophils in the non-atopic non-asthmatic control volunteers, but not in the asthmatics. IL-5 had no effect on spirometry or airways hyper-reactivity in either group.

Conclusions Inhaled IL-5 modulated eosinophil progenitor numbers in both the airways and bone marrow of asthmatics and induced local eosinophilia in non-asthmatics.