Immunohistochemical study of intestinal eosinophils in inflammatory bowel disease

J Clin Gastroenterol. 2003 Feb;36(2):120-5. doi: 10.1097/00004836-200302000-00006.


Background: Eosinophil accumulation and activation are characteristic features of inflammation in allergic diseases and in host defense against parasites.

Goals: To investigate the involvement of eosinophils in inflamed and noninflamed mucosa of patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Study: Specimens of inflamed colonic mucosa from 15 patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) and inflamed and noninflamed colonic mucosa from 15 patients with Crohn's disease (CD) were submitted to histologic and immunohistochemical studies. Twelve patients with irritable bowel syndrome were studied as controls. Sirius red was used to label eosinophils in tissue. EG1, EG2, and anti-hIL-5 were used as primary antibodies in an indirect alkaline phosphatase-labeled immunostaining protocol. Both positive and negative lamina propria cells were assessed by a quantitative grading system and the results expressed as cell numbers per mm.

Results: Increased proportions of eosinophils stained with Sirius red, EG1, EG2, and anti-hIL-5+ cells were found in the colon of patients with UC and in inflamed and noninflamed colon of CD patients as compared with controls. Crohn's disease patients showed increased proportions of EG1+ and EG2+ cells as compared with those with UC. Increased proportions of IL-5+ cells were detected in UC patients as compared with those with CD.

Conclusion: Quantitative eosinophil alterations and IL-5+ cells may indicate enhanced cellular activation with degranulation, which is implicated in the pathogenesis of IBD. Increase in IL-5+ cells may reflect a predominant local Th2 response in UC as compared with CD.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Azo Compounds
  • Blood Proteins / metabolism
  • Colitis / metabolism
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / metabolism
  • Crohn Disease / metabolism
  • Eosinophil Granule Proteins
  • Eosinophils / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ileitis / metabolism
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / epidemiology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-5 / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / cytology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mediator Complex
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Proteins / metabolism
  • Ribonucleases*


  • Azo Compounds
  • Blood Proteins
  • Eosinophil Granule Proteins
  • Interleukin-5
  • MED28 protein, human
  • Mediator Complex
  • Proteins
  • Direct Red 81
  • Ribonucleases