The mechanisms of sustained overproduction of eosinophils in the idiopathic hypereosinophilic syndrome and in some human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1-infected individuals are largely unknown. We hypothesized that T cells may release soluble products that regulate eosinophilia in these patients, as has been previously shown in bronchial asthma. We identified one patient with idiopathic hypereosinophilic syndrome and one HIV-1-infected individual with associated hypereosinophilia who demonstrated high numbers of CD4-CD8- T cells in peripheral blood. CD4-CD8- T cells from both patients, although highly activated, did not express functional Fas receptors. In one case, the lack of functional Fas receptors was associated with failure of Fas mRNA and protein expression, and in another, expression of a soluble form of the Fas molecule that may have antagonized normal signaling of Fas ligand. In contrast to the recently described lymphoproliferative/autoimmune syndrome, which is characterized by accumulation of CD4-CD8- T cells and mutations within the Fas gene, this study suggests somatic variations in Fas expression and function quite late in life. Both genetic and somatic abnormalities in regulation of the Fas gene are therefore associated with failures to undergo T cell apoptosis. Furthermore, the expanded population of CD4-CD8- T cells from both patients elaborated cytokines with antiapoptotic properties for eosinophils, indicating a major role of these T cells in the development of eosinophilia. Thus, this study demonstrates a sequential dysregulation of apoptosis in different cell types.

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