The relationship of sputum eosinophilia and sputum cell generation of IL-5

Lin Ying Liu, Cheri A. Swensen, Elizabeth A.Becky Kelly, Hirohito Kita, William W. Busse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Background: Eosinophil recruitment to the airway after antigen challenge is regulated by many factors, including airway cell generation of cytokines. Objectives: The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between sputum cell generation of IL-5 and the appearance of eosinophils in the sputum after antigen challenge. Method: Sputum samples from 11 allergic subjects were collected before and again 4 and 24 hours after antigen challenge. In 6 of these subjects, induced sputum samples were also obtained 48 hours and 7 days after challenge. Sputum leukocyte differential and cell counts and eosinophil-derived neurotoxin levels were determined. Sputum cells were then cultured with PHA (10 μg/mL) to stimulate IL-5 and IFN-γ, which were measured in culture supernatants. Result: An increase in sputum eosinophils and eosinophil-derived neurotoxin levels was detected at 4 hours after antigen challenge, with peak values at 24 hours. In contrast, significant increases in ex vivo generation of IL-5 by sputum cells was not seen until 24 hours after challenge. At 24 hours, PHA-induced IL-5 correlated with airspace eosinophil values (r(s) = 0.78, P <. 01). In addition, the ratio of IFN-γ/IL-5 decreased at 24 hours (P <. 05) and had an inverse correlation with sputum eosinophils (r(s) = -0.68, P <. 05). Conclusion: Although eosinophils are increased in the airway lumen as early as 4 hours, the ex vivo generation of IL-5 by sputum cells is first noted in samples obtained 24 hours after antigen challenge. This suggests that the early (4 hours) recruitment of eosinophils to the airway lumen may be regulated by factors other than IL-5 or that mucosal cells (rather than airspace cells) contribute to the IL-5 generation at this time point. Furthermore, IL-5 generation by airspace cells may be more responsible for either eosinophil recruitment or retention at later time points.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1063-1069
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2000


  • Allergy
  • Eosinophil IL-5
  • Sputum induction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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