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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2005 Jan;115(1):110-7.

Increased TGF-beta2 in severe asthma with eosinophilia.

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Department of Medicine, National Jewish Medical and Research Center and University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver 80206, USA.



Airway eosinophilia and thickened subepithelial basement membrane have previously been reported to increase with increases in TGF-beta expression. However, little is known regarding the expression of specific TGF-beta isoforms (TGF-beta1, TGF-beta2, and TGF-beta3) in asthma, despite recent evidence suggesting that isoforms may have differing biologic activities.


This study examined airway tissue expression of the 3 TGF-beta isoforms and several downstream pathway elements in 48 patients with severe asthma with or without persistent eosinophilia, 14 patients with mild asthma, and 21 normal subjects.


Immunochemistry/immunofluorescence, quantitative real-time PCR and enzyme immunoassay were used to evaluate the 3 TGF-beta isoforms, their receptors, collagen I deposition, connective tissue growth factor expression, and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases 1 levels.


Of the isoforms, only TGF-beta2 was different among the groups and increased in severe asthma (overall P < .0001). The increase was due to severe asthma tissue eosinophils which, unlike eosinophils in other groups, expressed high amounts of TGF-beta2. Subjects with severe asthma also had the thickest subbasement membrane and highest tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases 1 levels. In contrast, TGF-beta receptor 1 and connective tissue growth factor were both consistently downregulated in asthma, regardless of severity.


TGF-beta2, expressed mainly by eosinophils, is the predominant isoform expressed in severe asthma, and is associated with increased profibrotic responses. Decreased expression of TGF-beta receptor 1 and connective tissue growth factor in all asthma severity groups suggests a degree of activation of the TGF-beta pathway in airway tissue of all asthmatic compared with normal airways.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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