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Immunology. 1992 Dec;77(4):494-9.

Inhibition of interleukin-5 gene expression by dexamethasone.

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Centre for Immunology, St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.


The effect of glucocorticoids on interleukin-5 (IL-5) gene expression was assessed in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. IL-5 expression was stimulated by phytohaemagglutinin (PHA), IL-2, phorbol myristate acetate (PMA) or Ionomycin. A semi-quantitative assay for IL-5 gene expression was developed, based on RNA extraction and the polymerase chain reaction. IL-5 expression in response to PHA was profoundly inhibited by 10(-6) M dexamethasone, and significant inhibition was detected at doses of dexamethasone as low as 10(-9) M. When dexamethasone was added to the cells at the same time as PHA, the inhibitory effect could be detected as early as 3 hr. Dexamethasone at 10(-6) M also profoundly inhibited the IL-5 response to PMA and to IL-2, but the IL-5 response to Ionomycin was not significantly affected. These results suggest that dexamethasone may be capable of interfering with a pathway involving protein kinase C. There is increasing evidence that IL-5 may play a pathogenic role in asthma and other manifestations of acute hypersensitivity. The present findings indicate that inhibition of IL-5 expression may be one of the mechanisms whereby glucocorticoids exert their beneficial effects in diseases such as asthma.

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