Hematopoietins, interleukin (IL)-3, IL-5, and granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) have previously been shown to prolong eosinophil survival and abrogate apoptosis. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) on eosinophil survival and apoptosis. Eosinophils from peripheral blood of mildly eosinophilic donors were isolated to > 97% purity using discontinuous Percoll density gradient. Eosinophils were cultured with hematopoietins with or without TGF-beta for 4 d and their viability was assessed. We confirmed previous observations that hematopoietins prolonged eosinophil survival and inhibited apoptosis. TGF-beta at concentrations > or = 10(-12) M abrogated the survival-prolonging effects of hematopoietins in a dose-dependent manner and induced apoptosis as determined by DNA fragmentation in agarose gels. The effect of TGF-beta was blocked by an anti-TGF-beta antibody. The anti-TGF-beta antibody also prolonged eosinophil survival on its own. The culture of eosinophils with IL-3 and GM-CSF stimulated the synthesis of GM-CSF and IL-5, respectively, suggesting an autocrine mechanism of growth factor production. TGF-beta inhibited the synthesis of GM-CSF and IL-5 by eosinophils. TGF-beta did not have any effect on the expression of GM-CSF receptors on eosinophils. We also studied the effect of TGF-beta on eosinophil function and found that TGF-beta inhibited the release of eosinophil peroxidase. Thus, TGF-beta seems to inhibit eosinophil survival and function. The inhibition of endogenous synthesis of hematopoietins may be one mechanism by which TGF-beta blocks eosinophil survival and induces apoptosis.

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