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Allergy. 2008 Feb;63(2):168-75. doi: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.2007.01531.x.

Role of cysteinyl leukotrienes in human allergen-specific Th2 responses induced by granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor.

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Asthma UK and MRC, Centre in Allergic Mechanisms of Asthma, King's College London, and Department of Asthma, Allergy and Respiratory Science, Guy's Hospital, London, UK.



The pro-inflammatory cytokine, granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF), which is elevated in the lungs of atopic asthmatic patients, has been shown to enhance major histocompatibility class II expression of alveolar macrophages (AM). We hypothesized that exposure of AM and monocytes from atopic asthmatic patients to GM-CSF would enhance their antigen presenting function, and investigated putative mechanisms for this effect.


Alveolar macrophages were purified from bronchoalveolar lavage by plastic adherence. Monocytes and CD4(+) T cells were purified from peripheral blood by magnetic bead separation. Antigen-presenting cell (APC) were pretreated with GM-CSF, pulsed with allergen and cocultured with autologous T cells. T-cell proliferation was determined by tritiated thymidine incorporation and cytokine production by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.


Exposure of allergen-pulsed AM and peripheral blood monocytes to GM-CSF significantly increased allergen-specific T-cell proliferation and T helper 2 (Th2) cytokine production. The enhanced response was dependent on costimulation by CD86, but not CD80. Inhibition of the 5-lipoxygenase pathway abrogated GM-CSF-mediated upregulation by monocytes of allergen-specific interleukin-5 (IL-5) and IL-13 cytokine production. Blocking of the cysteinyl leukotriene receptor 1 (cysLT(1)) receptor by a specific receptor antagonist inhibited allergen-specific IL-5 production in response to GM-CSF pretreatment.


Exposure to GM-CSF enhanced the capacity of human APC from atopic asthmatic patients to induce allergen-specific Th2 responses by a mechanism involving cysLT. Novel immunotherapies, targeting production of GM-CSF or its actions on APC have the potential, therefore, to prove beneficial in treatment of patients with inflammatory airway disease.

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