Retinoic acid modulates IL-5 receptor expression and selectively inhibits eosinophil-basophil differentiation of hemopoietic progenitor cells

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2002 Feb;109(2):307-13. doi: 10.1067/mai.2002.121527.


Background: IL-5 plays a central role in eosinophil and basophil differentiation, exerting its effects through the IL-5 receptor (IL-5Ralpha). Currently, little is known concerning regulation of IL-5Ralpha expression in the context of commitment of hemopoietic progenitor cells to the eosinophil and basophil lineages.

Objective: Because all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) is known to modulate some aspects of hemopoietic differentiation, we examined the effects of ATRA on eosinophil-basophil differentiation and IL-5Ralpha expression.

Methods: Progenitor cells were obtained from bone marrow aspirates and cord blood samples. Enriched populations of CD34(+) cells were isolated by means of positive immunomagnetic selection with MACS beads.

Results: In semisolid methylcellulose cultures of normal human bone marrow, ATRA (10(-6) mol/L) selectively suppressed eosinophil-basophil colony-forming units but had no effect on granulocyte-macrophage colony-forming units. Similarly, ATRA (10(-6) mol/L) inhibited eosinophil-basophil differentiation of cord blood CD34(+) cells in liquid culture, whereas neutrophil differentiation proceeded without impediment. Most importantly, these effects of ATRA (10(-8) to 10(-6) mol/L) on CD34(+) cells were associated with a dose-dependent inhibition of IL-5Ralpha but no change in GM-CSF receptor expression, as detected with flow cytometry.

Conclusions: These findings indicate that retinoids can differentially regulate expression of IL-5Ralpha, but not GM-CSF receptor, and that these effects have functional consequences in vitro on eosinophil and basophil differentiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD34 / metabolism
  • Basophils / cytology
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Colony-Forming Units Assay
  • Eosinophils / cytology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Interleukin / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Interleukin-5
  • Tretinoin / pharmacology*


  • Antigens, CD34
  • Receptors, Interleukin
  • Receptors, Interleukin-5
  • Tretinoin