The expanding role(s) of eosinophils in health and disease

Elizabeth A. Jacobsen, Richard A. Helmers, James J. Lee, Nancy A. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations


Surprisingly, the role(s) of eosinophils in health and disease is often summarized by clinicians and basic research scientists as a pervasive consensus opinion first learned in medical/graduate school. Eosinophils are rare white blood cells whose activities are primarily destructive and are only relevant in parasitic infections and asthma. However, is this consensus correct? This review argues that the wealth of available studies investigating the role(s) of eosinophils in both health and disease demonstrates that the activities of these granulocytes are far more expansive and complex than previously appreciated. In turn, this greater understanding has led to the realization that eosinophils have significant contributory roles in a wide range of diseases. Furthermore, published studies even implicate eosinophil-mediated activities in otherwise healthy persons. We suggest that the collective reports in the literature showing a role for eosinophils in an ever-increasing number of novel settings highlight the true complexity and importance of this granulocyte. Indeed, discussions of eosinophils are no longer simple and more often than not now begin with the question/statement "Did you know . . .?"

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3882-3890
Number of pages9
Issue number19
StatePublished - Nov 8 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology


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