The cellular infiltrates of certain inflammatory processes found in parasitic infection or in allergic diseases consist predominantly of eosinophilic granulocytes, often in association with activated T cells. This suggests the existence of chemotactic agonists specific for eosinophils and lymphocyte subsets devoid of neutrophil-activating properties. We therefore examined four members of the intercrine/chemokine superfamily of cytokines (monocyte chemotactic peptide 1 [MCP-1], RANTES, macrophage inflammatory protein 1 alpha [MIP-1 alpha], and MIP-1 beta), which do not activate neutrophils, for their ability to affect different eosinophil effector functions. RANTES strongly attracted normal human eosinophils by a chemotactic rather than a chemokinetic mechanism with a similar efficacy as the most potent chemotactic myeloid cell agonist, C5a. MIP-1 alpha also induced eosinophil migration, however, with lower efficacy. RANTES and MIP-1 alpha induced eosinophil cationic protein release in cytochalasin B-treated eosinophils, but did not promote leukotriene C4 formation by eosinophils, even after preincubation with interleukin 3 (IL-3), in contrast to other chemotactic agonists such as C5a and formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (FMLP). RANTES, but not MIP-1 alpha, induced a biphasic chemiluminescence response, however, of lower magnitude than C5a. RANTES and MIP-1 alpha both promoted identical transient changes in intracellular free calcium concentration ([Ca2+]i), with kinetics similar to those induced by chemotactic peptides known to interact with G protein-coupled receptors. No cross-desensitization towards other peptide agonists (e.g., C5a, IL-8, FMLP) was observed, suggesting the presence of specific receptors. Despite its weaker eosinophil-activating properties, MIP-1 alpha was at least 10 times more potent on a molar basis than RANTES at inducing [Ca2+]i changes. Interestingly, RANTES deactivated the MIP-1 alpha-induced [Ca2+]i changes, while the RANTES response was preserved after MIP-1 alpha stimulation. MCP-1, a potent monocyte chemoattractant and basophil agonist, as well as MIP-1 beta, a peptide with pronounced homology to MIP-1 alpha, did not activate the eosinophil functions tested. Our results indicate that RANTES and MIP-1 alpha are crucial mediators of inflammatory processes in which eosinophils predominate.

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