IL-5 production by NK cells contributes to eosinophil infiltration in a mouse model of allergic inflammation

J Immunol. 1998 Aug 15;161(4):1962-9.


IL-5 production in vivo plays a unique role in the production, activation, and localization of eosinophils in a variety of allergic conditions. The current paradigm suggests that allergen-specific Th2 cells are the main source for the IL-5 production. The experiments outlined in this work, however, suggest that in vivo production of IL-5 by NK cells can separately influence eosinophil-associated inflammatory responses. Specifically, a mouse model of allergic inflammation was used in which C57BL/6 mice were immunized and challenged with a short ragweed Ag extract, known to induce a selective eosinophilia within the peritoneal cavity. Peritoneal lavage fluids from these mice also contained increased numbers of T cells and NK cells, as well as significantly elevated levels of IL-4, IL-5, and IFN-gamma. Flow-cytometric analysis of cytokine-producing cells in peritoneal lavage fluid revealed increased numbers of IL-5-producing cells in both T cell and NK cell populations following allergen exposure. Depletion of NK cells by treatment with NK1.1 Abs selectively reduced the number of infiltrating eosinophils by more than 50%. Moreover, the inhibition of the infiltration of eosinophils was accompanied by a complete loss of IL-5-producing NK cells and significantly reduced levels of peritoneal lavage fluid IL-5, whereas the number of IL-5-producing T cells was not affected. Thus, the results presented in this study provide clear evidence for a novel immunoregulatory function of NK cells in vivo, promoting allergen-induced eosinophilic inflammatory responses by the production of IL-5.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / administration & dosage
  • Allergens / immunology
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / administration & dosage
  • Ascitic Fluid / immunology
  • Ascitic Fluid / metabolism
  • Ascitic Fluid / pathology
  • Cell Movement / immunology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Eosinophils / immunology*
  • Eosinophils / pathology
  • Female
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Hypersensitivity / pathology
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Interleukin-5 / biosynthesis*
  • Interleukin-5 / metabolism
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology
  • Killer Cells, Natural / metabolism*
  • Lymphocyte Count
  • Lymphocyte Depletion
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Peritoneal Lavage
  • Peritonitis / immunology*
  • Peritonitis / pathology
  • Pollen / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism


  • Allergens
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Interleukin-5