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Infect Immun. 2009 Nov;77(11):4976-82. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00306-09. Epub 2009 Aug 24.

Mouse eosinophils possess potent antibacterial properties in vivo.

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Oregon Health and Science University, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, 3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Rd., Mail Code UHN67, Portland, OR 97239, USA.


Eosinophils are best known as the predominant cellular infiltrate associated with asthma and parasitic infections. Recently, numerous studies have documented the presence of Toll-like receptors (TLRs) on the surfaces of eosinophils, suggesting that these leukocytes may participate in the recognition and killing of viruses and bacteria. However, the significance of this role in the innate immune response to bacterial infection is largely unknown. Here we report a novel role for eosinophils as antibacterial defenders in the host response. Isolated mouse eosinophils possessed antipseudomonal properties in vitro. In vivo, interleukin-5 transgenic mice, which have profound eosinophilia, demonstrated improved clearance of Pseudomonas aeruginosa introduced into the peritoneal cavity. The findings of improved bacterial clearance following adoptive transfer of eosinophils, and impaired bacterial clearance in mice with a congenital eosinophil deficiency, established that this effect was eosinophil specific. The data presented also demonstrate that eosinophils mediate this antibacterial effect in part through the release of cationic secondary granule proteins. Specifically, isolated eosinophil granules had antibacterial properties in vitro, and administration of eosinophil granule extracts significantly improved bacterial clearance in vivo. These data suggest a potent yet underappreciated antibacterial role for eosinophils in vivo, specifically for eosinophil granules. Moreover, the data suggest that the administration of eosinophil-derived products may represent a viable adjuvant therapy for septic or bacteremic patients in the intensive care unit.

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