Background: Treating asthmatics with the humanized IgE-scavenging antibody, omalizumab (rhuMAb-E25, Xolair, reduces airways inflammation and asthma symptoms. Previously, omalizumab was shown to cause a dramatic and reversible loss of cell surface high-affinity IgE receptors, FcepsilonRI, from the peripheral blood basophils of asthmatics. The consequences of receptor loss for the FcepsilonRI-mediated synthesis and release of cytokines implicated in allergic asthma have not been examined.
Methods: Fifteen asthmatic volunteers each received omalizumab for 12 weeks. Peripheral blood basophils were isolated before, during, 2 weeks after and 6 months after omalizumab. Basophils were assayed for the basal and anti-IgE-stimulated release of cytokines, chemokines and histamine. Pooled data were analyzed by repeated measures ANOVA and by paired t tests.
Results: Anti-IgE-stimulated human basophils synthesize and release Th2 cytokines (IL-4, IL-13) and chemokines (IL-8, RANTES). The anti-IgE-stimulated release of IL-4, IL-13 and IL-8 was reduced during omalizumab treatment and returned to pretreatment levels after omalizumab withdrawal. Omalizumab did not alter basophil histamine levels or basal and anti-IgE-stimulated histamine release.
Conclusions: Omalizumab may reduce asthma symptoms in part by suppressing the FcepsilonRI-mediated production by basophils of Th2 cytokines and selected chemokines. Anti-IgE-stimulated basophil cytokine synthesis appears more sensitive than histamine release to the loss of FcepsilonRI caused by omalizumab treatment.
2009 S. Karger AG, Basel.