Background: The recruitment of circulating eosinophils to the lung is a characteristic feature of allergic airway inflammation. Chemokine receptors likely play a role in this complex process. However, reports of chemokine receptor expression on human eosinophils are conflicting.
Objective: The aim of this study was to determine whether the chemokine receptor profile of human eosinophils change when these cells are recruited to the airway after an antigen challenge and development of an allergic inflammatory response.
Methods: Blood and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) cells were obtained from 13 allergic subjects 48 hours after segmental bronchoprovocation with antigen. The CC chemokine receptor (CCR) 1 to 7, 9, and CXC chemokine receptor (CXCR) 1 to 4 were determined by flow cytometric analysis of whole blood and unseparated BAL cells.
Results: Compared with their circulating counterparts, airway eosinophils had decreased CCR3 and increased CCR4, CCR9, and CXCR3 expression on their cell surface. Furthermore, expression of CCR3, CCR4, and CXCR3 was significantly correlated with the percentage of eosinophils in BAL fluid at 48 hours. Eosinophils also expressed CXCR4, but this receptor did not change after antigen-induced recruitment to the airway. In contrast, the expression of CCR1, CCR2, CCR5, CCR6, CCR7, CXCR1, and CXCR2 remained undetectable on either blood or BAL eosinophils.
Conclusions: Our data suggest that recruitment of eosinophils to the airway is associated with a modulation of their chemokine receptor profiles. These changes in chemokine receptors could be involved in determining eosinophil function and antigen-induced airway inflammation.