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J Immunol Methods. 2002 Oct 15;268(2):189-95.

Measurement of changes in mRNA for IL-5 in noninvasive scrapings of nasal epithelium taken from patients undergoing nasal allergen challenge.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Allergy, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, 4200 East Ninth Avenue, Campus box B164, Denver 80262, USA.


Nasal allergen challenge of patients with allergic rhinitis results in increased numbers of inflammatory cells and increased production of pro-inflammatory cytokines including interleukin 5 (IL-5). We report a sensitive, noninvasive method to measure changes in the amount of mRNA for IL-5 in nasal epithelium and have used this method to detect alterations of IL-5 mRNA from patients undergoing a nasal allergen challenge. Ten grass or ragweed allergic adults were challenged out of season with appropriate pollen extracts at sufficient dose to give a rhinitis total symptom score of 5 on a scale of 12. After allergen exposure, symptoms were recorded hourly. At 0, 3, and 6 h after allergen exposure, secreted proteins were collected on filter paper strips and two superficial scrapings of nasal epithelium were obtained. The scrapings of epithelium were immediately immersed in 100 microl of RNAlater (Ambion, Austin, TX) and stored at 4 degrees C for up to 1 month without loss of RNA quality. Total RNA was isolated and RT-PCR was performed. cDNA for IL-5 was then measured by real-time fluorescence quantitative PCR with Pre-Developed TaqMan Assay Reagents (PE Biosystems, Foster City, CA). Sufficient RNA was isolated from eight subjects to measure IL-5 mRNA. Data were normalized for content of ribosomal RNA. The relative amount of cDNA for IL-5 was calculated by comparison with internal standards prepared from phytohemagluttinin-stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Messenger RNA for IL-5 was increased 8.7+/-2.7-fold at 3 h (p<0.01) and 39.5+/-20.9-fold at 6 h (p<0.01). Increased IL-5 mRNA levels at 6 h closely correlate with total symptom scores at 6 h (r=0.88; p=0.007). IL-5 protein was measured by ELISA in eluates from the filter papers. At 6 h, there was increased IL-5 protein (7.7+/-2.8 ng/ml) compared with time zero (1.8+/-0.5 ng/ml) (p=0.02). The levels of IL-5 protein did not correlate significantly with the symptoms score or with changes in the levels of IL-5 protein with IL-5 mRNA. These data show that changes in IL-5 mRNA in patients with allergic rhinitis undergoing an allergen challenge correlate with total symptom scores better than changes in IL-5 protein eluted from filter paper. Furthermore, these changes can be measured quantitatively in very small amounts of tissue.

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