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Allergy Asthma Immunol Res. 2010 Apr;2(2):87-101. doi: 10.4168/aair.2010.2.2.87. Epub 2010 Mar 24.

Eosinophil survival and apoptosis in health and disease.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.


Eosinophilia is common feature of many disorders, including allergic diseases. There are many factors that influence the production, migration, survival and death of the eosinophil. Apoptosis is the most common form of physiological cell death and a necessary process to maintain but limit cell numbers in humans and other species. It has been directly demonstrated that eosinophil apoptosis is delayed in allergic inflammatory sites, and that this mechanism contributes to the expansion of eosinophil numbers within tissues. Among the proteins known to influence hematopoiesis and survival, expression of the cytokine interleukin-5 appears to be uniquely important and specific for eosinophils. In contrast, eosinophil death can result from withdrawal of survival factors, but also by activation of pro-apoptotic pathways via death factors. Recent observations suggest a role for cell surface death receptors and mitochondria in facilitating eosinophil apoptosis, although the mechanisms that trigger each of these death pathways remain incompletely delineated. Ultimately, the control of eosinophil apoptosis may someday become another therapeutic strategy for treating allergic diseases and other eosinophil-associated disorders.


Eosinophils; apoptosis; survival

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