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Allergy. 1999 Apr;54(4):297-305.

Role of IgE in the development of allergic airway inflammation and airway hyperresponsiveness--a murine model.

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Department of Pediatrics, National Jewish Medical and Research Center, Denver, CO 80206, USA.


The importance of IgE in airway inflammation and development of AHR in allergen-sensitized mice has been compared and contrasted in different models of sensitization and challenge. Using different modes of sensitization in normal and genetically manipulated mice after anti-IgE treatment, we have been able to distinguish the role of IgE under these different conditions. Striking differences in the three sensitization protocols were delineated in terms of the role of allergen-specific IgE, extent of eosinophilic airway inflammation, and development of AHR (Table 1). The highest levels of IgE and eosinophil infiltration (approximately 20-fold increases) were achieved after systemic sensitization with allergen (plus adjuvant) followed by repeated airway challenge. Passive sensitization with allergen-specific IgE followed by limited airway challenge induced a modest eosinophilic inflammatory response in the airways despite high levels of serum IgE. Exposure to allergen exclusively via the airways also resulted in a modest serum IgE response and a limited eosinophilic inflammatory response (approximately fourfold increases). Under all of these conditions, inhibition of IL-5-mediated eosinophilic airway inflammation was associated with attenuation of AHR. In contrast, the differences in the responses to the different modes of allergen exposure were associated with differences in the requirements for IgE in the development of AHR (Table 1). In the two models associated with mild eosinophil infiltration (passive sensitization and exclusive airway exposure), IgE was required for the development of AHR but did not substantially enhance airway inflammation on its own. However, IgE-allergen interaction was able to enhance T-cell function in vitro and induce T-cell expansion in vivo. In mice systemically sensitized and challenged via the airways, IgE (or IgE-mediated mast-cell activation) was not required for T-cell activation, eosinophilic inflammation and activation in the airways, or development of AHR. This was most clearly seen in B-cell-deficient and mast-cell-deficient, low-IgE-responder mouse strains (B6, B10) and in anti-IgE-treated high-IgEresponder mice (BALB/c). At the same time, we confirmed the importance of IgE in the induction of immediate-type hypersensitivity (mast-cell activation, immediate cutaneous hypersensitivity, passive cutaneous and systemic anaphylaxis). These differences were also highlighted by the means used to detect altered airway function. Passive sensitization and limited airway challenge or exclusive airway exposure to allergen over 10 days elicited changes in airway function that could be detected only in tracheal smooth-muscle preparations exposed to EFS. In contrast, systemic sensitization followed by repeated airway challenge resulted not only in changes in the contractile response to EFS but also in increased responsiveness to inhaled MCh. Thus, these results distinguish not only the differential involvement of IgE and eosinophil numbers but also their contribution to the readouts used to monitor airway function. Based on these studies, we conclude that IgE plays an important role in the development of airway inflammation and AHR under conditions in which limited IL-5-mediated eosinophilic airway infiltration is induced. In conditions where a robust eosinophilic inflammation of the airways is elicited, IgE (and IgE-mediated mast-cell activation) does not appear to be essential for airway inflammation and the development of AHR, detected as increased responsiveness to inhaled MCh. These findings reveal the potential importance of differential targeting in the treatment of allergic diseases with a predominance of IgE-mediated symptoms, e.g., allergic rhinitis and conjunctivitis, where anti-IgE may be an effective therapy, compared to those diseases with a predominant inflammatory component, e.g., AHR in atopic bronchial asthma, where anti-inflammatory or anti-IL-5 therapy may be more beneficial.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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