Phenotype of cells expressing mRNA for TH2-type (interleukin 4 and interleukin 5) and TH1-type (interleukin 2 and interferon gamma) cytokines in bronchoalveolar lavage and bronchial biopsies from atopic asthmatic and normal control subjects

Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 1995 May;12(5):477-87. doi: 10.1165/ajrcmb.12.5.7742012.


We investigated the phenotype of cells expressing messenger RNA encoding interleukin 4 (IL-4), IL-5, IL-2, and interferon gamma (IFN-gamma) in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) and bronchial biopsies (BX) from seven mild atopic asthmatic patients and nine nonasthmatic controls. Immunocytochemistry followed by in situ hybridization using either 35S- or digoxigenin-labeled riboprobes was performed on cytospins from BAL and BX, respectively. With BAL or BX, in situ hybridization alone showed significant increases in percentages of IL-2, IL-4, and IL-5 mRNA+ cells when asthmatics were compared to nonasthmatic controls. Double immunocytochemistry-in situ hybridization revealed that > 70% of IL-4 and IL-5 mRNA+ cells were activated T cells (CD3+). The remaining IL-4 and IL-5 mRNA+ signals were colocalized to tryptase+ mast cells, and activated eosinophils (EG2+). Rare IL-4 and IL-5 mRNA+ cells were observed in nonasthmatic controls, the majority being CD3+ cells, as were IL-2 and IFN-gamma mRNA+ cells (in both asthmatics and controls). A few IL-4 (< 8%) and IL-5 (< 5%) mRNA+ signals did not colocalize with any of the cells identified by immunocytochemistry. Thus, we provide further evidence that CD3+ T cells are the most abundant cells expressing IL-4 and IL-5 mRNA in BAL and BX from allergic asthma. Fewer, but detectable, numbers of tryptase+ mast cells and EG2+ eosinophils also expressed these transcripts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism
  • Antigens, Differentiation, Myelomonocytic / metabolism
  • Asthma / immunology*
  • Bronchi / cytology
  • Bronchi / metabolism
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid
  • CD3 Complex / metabolism
  • Chymases
  • Eosinophils / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Interferon-gamma / genetics
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-2 / genetics
  • Interleukin-2 / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-4 / genetics
  • Interleukin-4 / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-5 / genetics
  • Interleukin-5 / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Serine Endopeptidases / metabolism
  • Th1 Cells / metabolism*
  • Th2 Cells / metabolism*
  • Tryptases


  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, Differentiation, Myelomonocytic
  • CD3 Complex
  • CD68 antigen, human
  • Interleukin-2
  • Interleukin-5
  • Interleukin-4
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Serine Endopeptidases
  • chymase 2
  • Chymases
  • Tryptases