Elevated levels of immunoglobulin (Ig) E are associated with bronchial asthma, a disease characterized by eosinophilic inflammation of the airways. Activation of antigen-specific T helper (Th) 2 cells in the lung with the subsequent release of interleukin (IL) 4 and IL-5 is believed to play an important role in the pathogenesis of this disease. In this study, we have used a non-anaphylactogenic anti-mouse-IgE antibody to investigate the relationship between IgE, airway eosinophil infiltration, and the production of Th2 cytokines. Immunization of mice with house dust mite antigen increased serum levels of IgE and IgG. Antigen challenge of immunized but not control mice induced an infiltration of eosinophils in the bronchoalveolar lavage associated with the production of IL-4 and IL-5 from lung purified Thy1.2+ cells activated through the CD3-T cell receptor complex. Administration of the anti-IgE monoclonal antibody (mAb) 6h before antigen challenge neutralized serum IgE but not IgG and inhibited the recruitment of eosinophils into the lungs and the production of IL-4 and IL-5 but not interferon gamma. Studies performed using an anti-CD23 mAb, CD23 deficient and mast cell deficient mice suggest that anti-IgE mAb suppresses eosinophil infiltration and Th2 cytokine production by inhibiting IgE-CD23-facilitated antigen presentation to T cells. Our results demonstrate that IgE-dependent mechanisms are important in the induction of a Th2 immune response and the subsequent infiltration of eosinophils into the airways. Neutralization of IgE, for example, non-anaphylactogenic anti-IgE mAbs may provide a novel therapeutic approach to the treatment of allergic airway disease.

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