Allergic asthma is characterized by chronic airway inflammation and hyperreactivity and is thought to be mediated by an adaptive T helper-2 (Th2) cell-type immune response. Here, we demonstrate that type 2 pulmonary innate lymphoid cells (ILC2s) significantly contribute to production of the key cytokines IL-5 and IL-13 in experimental asthma. In naive mice, lineage-marker negative ILC2s expressing IL-7Rα, CD25, Sca-1, and T1/ST2(IL-33R) were present in lungs and mediastinal lymph nodes (MedLNs), but not in broncho-alveolar lavage (BAL) fluid. Upon intranasal administration of IL-25 or IL-33, an asthma phenotype was induced, whereby ILC2s accumulated in lungs, MedLNs, and BAL fluid. After IL-25 and IL-33 administration, ILC2s constituted ∼50 and ∼80% of IL-5(+) /IL-13(+) cells in lung and BAL, respectively. Also in house dust mite-induced or ovalbumin-induced allergic asthma, the ILC2 population in lung and BAL fluid increased significantly in size and ILC2s were a major source of IL-5 or IL-13. Particularly in OVA-induced asthma, the contribution of ILC2s to the total population of intracellular IL-5(+) and IL-13(+) cells in the lung was in the same range as found for Th2 cells. We conclude that both ILC2s and Th2 cells produce large amounts of IL-5 and IL-13 that contribute to allergic airway inflammation.
© 2012 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.