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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2015 Jun;135(6):1594-602. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2014.12.1918. Epub 2015 Feb 3.

Thymic stromal lymphopoietin and IL-33 modulate migration of hematopoietic progenitor cells in patients with allergic asthma.

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Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health, St Joseph's Healthcare, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Asthma Research Group, Department of Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Inflammation Research, Amgen, Seattle, Wash.
Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health, St Joseph's Healthcare, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Electronic address:



Thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) and IL-33 are considered important initiators of type 2 immunity. In asthmatic patients allergic inflammatory responses are associated with increased lung homing of bone marrow-derived CD34(+) hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs), which include eosinophil lineage-committed progenitor cells. In this study we investigated the role of TSLP and IL-33 in the recruitment of progenitor cells to the airways in asthmatic subjects.


We sought (i) to examine the effect of allergen inhalation challenge on expression levels of receptors for TSLP (thymic stromal lymphopoietin receptor [TSLPR] and CD127) and IL-33 (ST2) and (ii) investigate the functional effects of these cytokines on HPCs.


Consenting patients with mild atopic asthma (n = 19) with an FEV1 of 70% or greater and methacholine PC20 of 16 mg/mL or less were recruited. Blood- and sputum-extracted progenitors were phenotyped by flow cytometry before and 24 hours after allergen challenge. Functional responses, including cytokine production and migration to TSLP and IL-33, were assessed in vitro.


Significant increases in mature eosinophil, HPC, and eosinophil lineage-committed progenitor cell counts in sputum were observed 24 hours after allergen and were associated with a significant allergen-induced increase in HPCs expressing TSLPR, CD127, and ST2. Pre-exposure to TSLP and IL-33 primed the migration of HPCs to a potent progenitor cell chemoattractant, stromal cell-derived factor 1α (CXCL12). Incubation with TSLP and IL-33 stimulated significant production of IL-5 and IL-13, but not IL-4, by HPCs. This priming effect was inhibited by blocking antibodies to TSLPR and ST2, respectively, and IL-13 receptor α1 in both scenarios.


In allergic asthmatic responses increased lung homing of HPCs may be orchestrated by TSLP and IL-33 through an IL-13-dependent axis.


Hematopoietic progenitor cells; asthma; thymic stromal lymphopoietin

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