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Allergy. 2003 Mar;58(3):239-45.

Altered intracellular expression of the chemokines MIP-1alpha, MIP-1beta and IL-8 by peripheral blood CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in mild allergic asthma.

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Clinical Immunology, Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital, Zürich, Switzerland.



The ability of chemokines to regulate Th1 and Th2 responses suggests a role in the pathogenesis of atopic disorders such as allergic asthma where Th2 response dominance has been observed. Although the impact of allergic asthma on local chemokine production in the lung has been the subject of investigation, little is know about the influence of disease progression on peripheral chemokine production. We now report use of whole blood culture and flow cytometry to assess the influence of mild allergic asthma on peripheral T-cell chemokine expression.


Study participants included patients with mild allergic asthma (n = 7) and nonasthmatic controls (n = 7). Following in vitro stimulation of peripheral venous blood with phorbol 12-myristate acetate (PMA) and ionomycin, flow cytometry was used to estimate the percentage of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells producing a number of chemokines, including macrophage inflammatory proteins MIP-1alpha and MIP-1beta, RANTES (regulated on activation, T-cell expressed and secreted), monocytic chemotactic protein-1 (MCP)-1, and interleukin (IL)-8, or the cytokines interferon (IFN)-gamma and IL-4. Serum levels of MIP-1alpha, MIP-1beta, RANTES, MCP-1, IL-8, IFN-gamma and IL-4 were also assessed by quantitative ELISA.


Intracellular expression of MIP-1beta by CD4+ and CD8+ T cells from allergic asthmatics was significantly reduced in comparison to that observed for nonasthmatics (median = 2.29% (1.75-3.50) vs 4.57% (3.38-6.64), P = 0.05; 14.20% (13.18-17.88) vs 44.10% (30.38-48.70), P = 0.01). Similarly, intracellular expression of MIP-1alpha by CD8+ T cells from allergic asthmatics was also significantly lower (3.67% (1.17-5.42) vs 17.10% (4.97-20.43), P = 0.05). Conversely, IL-8 expression by both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells from allergic asthmatics demonstrated significant enhancement (9.93% (7.77-11.28) vs 4.14% (3.61-7.11), P = 0.05; 8.40% (6.97-10.04) vs 4.98% (3.37-6.08), P = 0.05). Examination of intracellular IFN-gamma and IL-4 revealed no significant difference in the expression of either cytokine by CD4+ T-cells from allergic asthmatics and nonasthmatics. In contrast, expression of IFN-gamma was significantly reduced in CD8+ T-cells from allergic asthmatics (24.60% (21.08-32.50) vs 48.40% (41.50-55.28), P = 0.01).


The occurrence in mild allergic asthma of peripheral T-cell chemokine expression suggestive of a diminished Th1 response, coinciding with marginal change in cytokine profiles indicative of a Th2 response bias, confirms the importance of chemokine involvement in the etiology of allergic asthma. The ability to use whole blood culture to estimate chemokine expression in T cell subsets may ultimately provide a practical means to evaluate disease status and to monitor early intervention therapies which target chemokines.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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