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J Clin Invest. 1991 Apr;87(4):1470-3.

Human eosinophil major basic protein induces airway constriction and airway hyperresponsiveness in primates.

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Department of Pharmacology, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Ridgefield, Connecticut 06877.


We have examined the effects of direct intratracheal instillation of purified eosinophil granule proteins on pulmonary function and airway responsiveness in primates. The results of this study show for the first time that installation of major basic protein (MBP) directly into the trachea of primates results in a significant and dose-related increase in airway responsiveness to inhaled methacholine. Furthermore, MBP and eosinophil peroxidase (EPO) induce a transient bronchoconstriction immediately after instillation that resolves by 1 h postinstillation. In contrast, instillation of other eosinophil granule proteins had no effect on airway responsiveness or pulmonary function. These data indicate a direct role of the eosinophil in the pathogenesis of airway hyperresponsiveness. We suggest that the MBP of human eosinophils has an effector role in the pathogenesis of airway hyperresponsiveness which may involve active interaction with resident airway tissue cells. MBP may also mediate altered lung function in various inflammatory lung diseases associated with pulmonary eosinophilia.

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