Distinctive blood eosinophilic phenotypes and cytokine patterns in eosinophilic esophagitis, inflammatory bowel disease and airway allergy

J Innate Immun. 2011;3(6):594-604. doi: 10.1159/000331326. Epub 2011 Sep 13.


Blood eosinophil numbers may be elevated in allergy, inflammatory bowel disease and eosinophilic esophagitis. The aim of this study was to examine whether circulating eosinophils display distinct phenotypes in these disorders and if different patterns of eosinophilic chemoattractants exist. Blood eosinophils from patients with symptomatic eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE; n = 12), ulcerative colitis (n = 8), airway allergy (n = 10) and healthy controls (n = 10) were enumerated and their surface markers analyzed by flow cytometry. Plasma levels of pro-eosinophilic cytokines were quantified in parallel. Data were processed by multivariate pattern recognition methods to reveal disease-specific patterns of eosinophil phenotypes and cytokines. EoE patients had higher numbers of eosinophils with enhanced expression of CD23, CD54, CRTH2 and CD11c and diminished CCR3 and CD44 expression. Plasma CCL5 was also increased in EoE. Although allergic patients had increased interleukin (IL)-2, IL-3, IL-5 and granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor plasma concentrations, their blood eosinophil phenotypes were indistinguishable from those of healthy controls. Decreased eosinophilic expression of CD11b, CD18, CD44 and CCR3, but no distinctive pattern of eosinophil chemoattractants, characterized ulcerative colitis. We propose that eosinophils acquire varying functional properties as a consequence of distinct patterns of activation signals released from the inflamed tissues in different diseases.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism*
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Separation
  • Cellular Microenvironment
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Eosinophilic Esophagitis / blood
  • Eosinophilic Esophagitis / immunology*
  • Eosinophils / immunology
  • Eosinophils / metabolism*
  • Eosinophils / pathology
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gene Expression Regulation / immunology
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / blood
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / blood
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / immunology*


  • Antigens, CD
  • Cytokines