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Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2004 Jul;31(1):62-8. Epub 2004 Feb 19.

Role of interleukin-5 and eosinophils in allergen-induced airway remodeling in mice.

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Department of Pharmacology, Gifu Pharmaceutical University, Gifu, Japan.


Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by variable bronchial obstruction, hyperresponsiveness, and by tissue damage known as airway remodeling. In the present study we demonstrate that interleukin (IL)-5 plays an obligatory role in the airway remodeling observed in experimental asthma. BALB/c mice sensitized by intraperitoneal injections of ovalbumin and exposed daily to aerosol of ovalbumin for up to 3 wk, develop eosinophilic infiltration of the bronchi and subepithelial and peribronchial fibrosis. The lesions are associated with increased amounts of hydroxyproline in the lungs and elevated levels of eosinophils and transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta1 in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. After 1 wk of allergen challenge, TGF-beta is mainly produced by eosinophils accumulated in the peribronchial and perivascular lesions. At a later stage of the disease, the main source of TGF-beta is myofibroblasts, identified by alpha-smooth muscle actin mAb. We show that all these lesions, including fibrosis, are abolished in sensitized and allergen-exposed IL-5 receptor-null mice, whereas they are markedly accentuated in IL-5 transgenic animals. More importantly, treatment of wild-type mice with neutralizing anti-IL-5 antibody, administered before each allergen challenge, almost completely prevented subepithelial and peribronchial fibrosis. These findings demonstrated that eosinophils are involved in allergen-induced subepithelial and peribronchial fibrosis probably by producing a fibrogenic factor, TGF-beta1.

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