Background and aims: Eosinophils, mast cells and T lymphocytes are important cells in the allergic inflammatory process. These cells produce and are regulated by cytokines such as interleukin-3 (IL-3), interleukin-5 (IL-5) and granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF). We initiated this study to evaluate pathological abnormalities and to detect IL-5 in the duodenal mucosa from patients with food allergy.
Methods: Endoscopy duodenal biopsy specimens were obtained from seven food-allergic patients, six atopic healthy controls and six nonatopic healthy controls. IL-5 protein was evaluated by immunohistochemistry. Electron microscopy as well as double immunofluorescent staining were used to identify the labelled cells and to localize IL-5. IL-5 mRNA expression was evaluated by qualitative polymerase chain reaction.
Results: A significantly increased number of lymphocytes, mast cells and eosinophils was detected in the lamina propria in food-allergic patients and, in lower number, in atopic controls. Immunostaining for IL-5 was markedly positive in food-allergic patients, slightly increased in atopic controls and negative in nonatopic controls. Ultrastructurally, in food-allergic patients and in atopic controls, IL-5 was localized in eosinophil granules, in the matrix of intact granules and at the periphery of altered granules. Double immunofluorescent staining was performed in food-allergic patients and showed that 86.7% of IL-5+ cells were eosinophils, and that IL-5 was expressed by 24% of eosinophils. IL-5 mRNA was expressed in food-allergic patients but was not detected in atopic and nonatopic controls.
Conclusion: Activated eosinophils are involved in gut atopic reactions occurring in food allergy and are probably in part upregulated by their own local production of IL-5.