Interleukin 5 (IL-5), the major factor involved in eosinophil differentiation, is produced by T cells or mast cells. In the present study, we found that eosinophils infiltrating the mucosa of four patients with active coeliac disease also express the IL-5 mRNA. No positive signal was obtained in normal duodenum tissues and in the cell infiltrate from patients submitted to gluten restriction. The identification of labeled mucosal cells as eosinophils relied on their typical morphology. Moreover, highly purified blood eosinophils from three out of four patients with eosinophilia were also strongly labeled with the IL-5 antisense but not with the corresponding sense probe. Together, these results suggest that eosinophils have the capacity to synthesize IL-5, which could contribute to paracrine interactions with T and B cells and, in autocrine fashion, locally participate, through binding to the IL-5 receptor, to eosinophil differentiation and activation. These data might have implications not only in the pathology of coeliac disease but also in other diseases associated with eosinophil infiltration.

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