Rapamycin inhibition of eosinophil differentiation attenuates allergic airway inflammation in mice

Respirology. 2015 Oct;20(7):1055-65. doi: 10.1111/resp.12554. Epub 2015 Jun 4.


Background and objective: The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signalling pathway regulates immune responses, and promotes cell growth and differentiation. Inhibition of mTOR with rapamycin modulates allergic asthma, while the underlying molecular mechanisms remain elusive. Here, we demonstrate that rapamycin, effectively inhibits eosinophil differentiation, contributing to its overall protective role in allergic airway inflammation.

Methods: Rapamycin was administered in a mouse model of ovalbumin-induced allergic airway inflammation, and the eosinophil differentiation was analysed in vivo and in vitro.

Results: Rapamycin significantly attenuated allergic airway inflammation and markedly decreased the amount of eosinophils in local airways, peripheral blood and bone marrow, independently of levels of interleukin-5 (IL-5). In vitro colony forming unit assay and liquid culture demonstrated that rapamycin directly inhibited IL-5-induced eosinophil differentiation. In addition, rapamycin reduced the production of IL-6 and IL-13 by eosinophils. Rapamycin was also capable of reducing the eosinophil levels in IL-5 transgenic NJ.1638 mice, again regardless of the constitutive high levels of IL-5. Interestingly, rapamycin inhibition of eosinophil differentiation in turn resulted in an accumulation of eosinophil lineage-committed progenitors in bone marrow.

Conclusions: Altogether these results clearly demonstrate a direct inhibitory role of rapamycin in eosinophil differentiation and function, and reemphasize the importance of rapamycin and possibly, mTOR, in allergic airway disease.

Keywords: allergy; animal model; asthma; eosinophil; inflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asthma* / drug therapy
  • Asthma* / immunology
  • Asthma* / pathology
  • Cell Differentiation* / drug effects
  • Cell Differentiation* / immunology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Eosinophils* / drug effects
  • Eosinophils* / immunology
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / pharmacology
  • Inflammation* / drug therapy
  • Inflammation* / immunology
  • Inflammation* / pathology
  • Interleukins / immunology
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Ovalbumin / pharmacology
  • Serine Proteinase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Sirolimus / pharmacology*
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / immunology


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Interleukins
  • Serine Proteinase Inhibitors
  • Ovalbumin
  • MTOR protein, human
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Sirolimus