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Immunology. 1993 Oct;80(2):281-6.

CD69 is expressed by human eosinophils activated in vivo in asthma and in vitro by cytokines.

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Department of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, National Heart and Lung Institute, London, U.K.


CD69 is an early activation marker for T cells and cross-linking of CD69 on platelets triggers aggregation and mediator release. Expression of a number of membrane receptors is induced on eosinophils after culture with certain cytokines. Therefore, we investigated whether cytokine-activated eosinophils expressed CD69. Unstimulated, peripheral blood eosinophils did not express CD69, as determined by immunofluorescence and flow cytometry (n = 15). CD69 expression was induced on eosinophils by granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) in a time- and dose-dependent manner. After 1 day in culture, expression was significant at concentrations of 10(-11) M and above. CD69 expression could be detected after stimulation with GM-CSF for only 1 hr, was significant after 2 hr and was sustained over 1-2 days in culture. CD69 expression was also induced by interleukin-3 (IL-3), IL-5 and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma), but stimulation of eosinophils with platelet-activating factor (PAF) (10(-6) M) for up to 2 hr did not induce CD69 expression. Cycloheximide (10(-6) M) significantly inhibited GM-CSF-induced CD69 expression, suggesting a requirement for protein synthesis. However, unlike up-regulation of CR3 expression, GM-CSF-induced CD69 expression was not inhibited by dexamethasone. CD69 was present on eosinophils from the bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid of patients with mild asthma (5/5), suggesting that the in vitro findings may have biological relevance in vivo. Therefore, CD69 can be used as a marker of eosinophil activation by cytokines and is a candidate receptor for triggering eosinophil mediator release in the airways in asthma.

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