Increased secretion of tumor necrosis factor alpha and interleukin-6 by alveolar macrophages consecutive to the development of the late asthmatic reaction

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1991 Oct;88(4):561-71. doi: 10.1016/0091-6749(91)90149-i.


The late asthmatic reaction (LAR), consecutive to bronchial allergen challenge, is characterized both by the influx of various cells in proximal and distal airways and by the enhancement of bronchial hyperresponsiveness. However, the exact conditions for the development of the inflammatory reaction during the LAR remain to be specified. Since monokines play a key role in inflammatory processes, particularly in the lung, the production of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin; 1-beta (IL-1-beta) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) by alveolar macrophages (AM), collected 18 to 20 hours after exposure to allergen, was evaluated in 15 allergic subjects with asthma submitted to a challenge test with Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (N = 6) or with wheat flour (N = 9) and in three healthy subjects. After bronchial provocation test, four patients presented no bronchial response (group 1), and six patients, a single early reaction (group 2). In contrast, five patients developed successively an immediate plus a late response (group 3). The monokine production was compared to that from nine allergic subjects with asthma studied at baseline (group 0) and from 11 unchallenged healthy subjects (control subjects). Measurements of cytokines were evaluated for TNF-alpha and IL-1-beta by a specific immunoradiometric assay, whereas IL-6 levels were appreciated by the proliferation of 7TD1 cells. No detectable amounts of TNF-alpha, IL-1-beta, and IL-6 were in bronchial alveolar lavage fluid, even after a tenfold concentration. In contrast, a significant increase of TNF-alpha (10,642 +/- 3127 U/ml) and IL-6 (1250 +/- 427 U/ml) concentrations was noted in AM supernatants from patients exhibiting an LAR (group 3) compared to cells recovered from groups 2, 1, and 0 and to challenged or unchallenged control subjects (805 +/- 244, 995 +/- 521, 1269 +/- 524, 688 +/- 85, and 445 +/- 74 pg of TNF-alpha per milliliter, respectively; 190 +/- 64, 114 +/- 91, 242 +/- 95, 80 +/- 9, and 54 +/- 19 U/ml of IL-6 per milliliter, respectively). No modification of IL-1-beta contents could be detected between the different groups. A significant correlation was detected between concentrations of TNF and IL-6 (r = 0.92; p less than 0.001). These results demonstrate TNF-alpha and IL-6 secretion by AM consecutively to the development of LAR in allergic subjects with asthma, confirming that AMs are activated after allergen challenge.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asthma / immunology*
  • Bronchial Provocation Tests
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / cytology
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Delayed / immunology
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin E / analysis
  • Immunoradiometric Assay
  • Interleukin-1 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-6 / biosynthesis*
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Macrophages / immunology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / biosynthesis*


  • Interleukin-1
  • Interleukin-6
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Immunoglobulin E