Allergen-induced airway inflammation and bronchial responsiveness in wild-type and interleukin-4-deficient mice

Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 1995 Mar;12(3):254-9. doi: 10.1165/ajrcmb.12.3.7873190.


T helper 2 (Th2)-like cytokines are thought to play a crucial role in the pathogenesis of airway inflammation in atopic asthma, leading to bronchial hyperresponsiveness. To investigate the role of the principal Th2 cytokine interleukin-4 (IL-4) in asthma, we examined the allergen-induced changes in airway morphology and bronchial responsiveness (BR) in an in vivo mouse model. C57BL/6 mice were actively sensitized to ovalbumin (OVA) and exposed daily to aerosolized OVA or saline (SAL) for 7 days. Twenty-four hours after the last allergen exposure, total and differential counts of bronchoalveolar lavage cells revealed a significant increase of eosinophils and lymphocytes in OVA-exposed immunized mice compared with SAL-exposed animals. In IL-4-deficient (IL-4-/-) mice, treated in the same way, there were substantially fewer eosinophils in bronchoalveolar lavage compared with wild-type mice. Allergen exposure of actively sensitized wild-type mice induced a significant increase of BR to carbachol and to serotonin compared with SAL-exposed mice. In contrast, OVA exposure of immunized IL-4-/- mice did not augment BR to serotonin compared with SAL-challenged IL-4-/- mice. In conclusion, these data indicate that repeated allergen exposure in sensitized mice induces airway inflammation and bronchial hyperresponsiveness, and that IL-4 plays a predominant role in the pathogenesis of both phenomena.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Asthma / immunology
  • Bronchial Provocation Tests
  • Carbachol / pharmacology
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology
  • Inflammation
  • Interleukin-4 / deficiency*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Ovalbumin / immunology
  • Serotonin / pharmacology


  • Allergens
  • Interleukin-4
  • Serotonin
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Carbachol
  • Ovalbumin