Mast cells express IL-13Rα1: IL-13 promotes human lung mast cell proliferation and FcɛRI expression


Dr D. Kaur
Glenfield Hospital
Groby Road
Leicester LE3 9QP


Background:  The Th2 cytokine interleukin (IL)-13 is implicated in the development of various allergic diseases including asthma. The IL-13 receptor, IL-13Rα1, is expressed on most leukocytes, except T-cells. Evidence to support IL-13Rα1 expression on mast cells is limited.

Methods:  We investigated: (i) IL-13Rα1 expression by human lung mast cells (HLMC); (ii) the number of IL-13Rα1+ bronchial submucosal mast cells in subjects with asthma and normal controls and (iii) the effect of IL-13 priming on HLMC expression of high-affinity IgE receptor (FcɛRI), stem cell factor receptor (CD117), histamine release, proliferation, and survival.

Results:  Human lung mast cell expressed IL-13Rα1 mRNA. IL-13Rα1 was highly expressed on the surface HLMC (82 ± 9%). Bronchial submucosal mast cell IL-13Rα1 expression was higher in asthmatics (86 ± 2%) than normal controls (78 ± 2%; P = 0.015). IL-13 priming for 30 min did not increase HLMC histamine release, in the presence or absence of SCF or in response to IgE/anti-IgE activation. IL-13 priming for 5 days upregulated HLMC FcɛRI expression (22% increase in fluorescent intensity; P = 0.003), increased histamine release following IgE/anti-IgE activation by 56% (P = 0.03) and increased proliferation by 50% (P = 0.003) without affecting cell survival or CD117 expression. The IL-13 specific neutralizing antibody CAT-354 inhibited all IL-13 mediated effects.

Conclusion:  Human lung mast cell express IL-13Rα1 and activation by IL-13 for 5 days increased FcɛRI expression and proliferation. Histamine release was not affected by short-term priming with IL-13, but was upregulated by priming for 5 days suggesting that this effect was mediated by the increased FcɛRI expression. These data support the view that targeting IL-13 may be beneficial in the treatment of asthma.