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Immunoregulatory roles of eosinophils: a new look at a familiar cell


Dr Peter F. Weller, Division of Allergy and Inflammation, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess MedicalCenter, DA-617, 330 Brookline Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, USA. E-mail:


Eosinophils are usually considered as end-stage degranulating effector cells of innate immunity. However, accumulating evidence has revealed additional roles for eosinophils that are immunoregulatory in nature in both the adaptive and innate arms of immunity. Specifically, eosinophils have key immunoregulatory roles as professional antigen-presenting cells and as modulators of CD4+ T cell, dendritic cell, B cell, mast cell, neutrophil, and basophil functions. This review addresses the emerging immunoregulatory roles of eosinophils with a focus on recent data that support this new paradigm. Recognizing both the effector and immunoregulatory functions of eosinophils will enable a fuller understanding of the roles of eosinophils in allergic airways inflammation and may be pertinent to therapies that target eosinophils both for their acute and ongoing immunomodulatory functions.