IL-33 Precedes IL-5 in Regulating Eosinophil Commitment and Is Required for Eosinophil Homeostasis

J Immunol. 2016 Nov 1;197(9):3445-3453. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1600611. Epub 2016 Sep 28.


Eosinophils are important in the pathogenesis of many diseases, including asthma, eosinophilic esophagitis, and eczema. Whereas IL-5 is crucial for supporting mature eosinophils (EoMs), the signals that support earlier eosinophil lineage events are less defined. The IL-33R, ST2, is expressed on several inflammatory cells, including eosinophils, and is best characterized for its role during the initiation of allergic responses in peripheral tissues. Recently, ST2 expression was described on hematopoietic progenitor subsets, where its function remains controversial. Our findings demonstrate that IL-33 is required for basal eosinophil homeostasis, because both IL-33- and ST2-deficient mice exhibited diminished peripheral blood eosinophil numbers at baseline. Exogenous IL-33 administration increased EoMs in both the bone marrow and the periphery in wild-type and IL-33-deficient, but not ST2-deficient, mice. Systemic IL-5 was also increased under this treatment, and blocking IL-5 with a neutralizing Ab ablated the IL-33-induced EoM expansion. The homeostatic hypereosinophilia seen in IL-5-transgenic mice was significantly lower with ST2 deficiency despite similar elevations in systemic IL-5. Finally, in vitro treatment of bone marrow cells with IL-33, but not IL-5, led to specific early expansion of IL-5Rα-expressing precursor cells. In summary, our findings establish a basal defect in eosinophilopoiesis in IL-33- and ST2-deficient mice and a mechanism whereby IL-33 supports EoMs by driving both systemic IL-5 production and the expansion of IL-5Rα-expressing precursor cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow Cells / physiology
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Lineage
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Eosinophils / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Hematopoiesis
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1 Receptor-Like 1 Protein / genetics
  • Interleukin-1 Receptor-Like 1 Protein / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-33 / genetics
  • Interleukin-33 / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-5 / genetics
  • Interleukin-5 / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-5 Receptor alpha Subunit / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neutrophils / physiology*


  • Il1rl1 protein, mouse
  • Interleukin-1 Receptor-Like 1 Protein
  • Interleukin-33
  • Interleukin-5
  • Interleukin-5 Receptor alpha Subunit
  • interleukin-5- receptor alpha, mouse