IL-4 induces ICAM-1 expression in human bronchial epithelial cells and potentiates TNF-alpha

Am J Physiol. 1999 Jul;277(1):L58-64. doi: 10.1152/ajplung.1999.277.1.L58.


Interleukin (IL)-4 is thought to contribute to the Th2 type of immune response and hence the development of allergic reactions such as asthma. In asthmatic patients, the airway epithelium expresses increased amounts of the cell surface adhesion molecule intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM)-1 (CD54). One cytokine capable of inducing ICAM-1 in airway epithelial cells, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), is present in asthma. This study evaluated if IL-4 either alone or together with TNF-alpha costimulation might modulate CD54 expression by human bronchial epithelial cells (HBECs). CD54 positivity increased in response to IL-4 (16 +/- 2% positive vs. 3 +/- 1%, P < 0.01); greater induction of CD54 resulted from TNF-alpha (45 +/- 2%, P < 0.001). Costimulation with TNF-alpha plus IL-4 further augmented expression (56 +/- 1%, P < 0.05). Immunoperoxidase results were confirmed by flow cytometry. RT-PCR revealed no increase in ICAM-1 mRNA expression under control conditions or after stimulation with IL-4 alone. TNF-alpha increased IL-4 mRNA, and IL-4 potentiated this. Functionally, IL-4 augmented the adhesion of THP-1 monocyte/macrophage cells to monolayers of HBECs both alone and in the presence of TNF-alpha. We conclude that 1) IL-4 augments epithelial cell ICAM-1 expression, 2) IL-4 potentiates the adhesion of THP-1 monocyte/macrophage cells to epithelial cells, and 3) modulation of epithelial cell ICAM-1 expression by IL-4 may play a role in the immunopathology of bronchial asthma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bronchi / cytology
  • Bronchi / drug effects
  • Bronchi / metabolism*
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology
  • Cell Line
  • Drug Synergism
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / genetics
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-10 / pharmacology
  • Interleukin-13 / pharmacology
  • Interleukin-4 / pharmacology*
  • Macrophages / physiology
  • Monocytes / physiology
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology*


  • Interleukin-13
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Interleukin-10
  • Interleukin-4