Eosinophil infiltration and degranulation in normal human tissue

Anat Rec. 1998 Nov;252(3):418-25. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0185(199811)252:3<418::AID-AR10>3.0.CO;2-1.


Localization of eosinophil granule major basic protein by immunofluorescence permits recognition of both eosinophil infiltration and degranulation. Over the past decade and a half, our laboratory has shown that eosinophil infiltration and degranulation occur in many diseased tissues in humans; among normal tissues studied as controls, only the gut showed striking eosinophil infiltration and degranulation. Using an indirect immunofluorescence procedure for the detection of major basic protein, we extended our analyses of normal human tissues to include tissues from essentially all body organs; a total of 117 biopsy/autopsy specimens were analyzed. To determine whether the method of tissue procurement affected the level of eosinophil degranulation in the normal gastrointestinal tract, normal proximal jejunum from six patients was biopsied using either an endoscopic forceps or a scalpel at the time of elective surgery and examined by immunofluorescence. Spleen, lymph node, and thymus tissues showed eosinophil infiltration with scant evidence of degranulation, but the only organ showing both eosinophil infiltration and remarkable degranulation was the gastrointestinal tract. Eosinophil degranulation was significantly increased in specimens obtained by endoscopic forceps compared to those obtained by scalpel (P = 0.021). These results indicate that tissue procurement methods affect the degree of eosinophil degranulation in the gut. Thus, among normal human body organs, both eosinophil infiltration and appreciable degranulation consistently occur only in the gut.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Proteins / analysis
  • Cell Degranulation / immunology*
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / chemistry
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / physiology
  • Eosinophil Granule Proteins
  • Eosinophils / chemistry
  • Eosinophils / cytology*
  • Eosinophils / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / analysis
  • Jejunum / cytology*
  • Jejunum / physiology
  • Lymph Nodes / cytology
  • Lymph Nodes / physiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ribonucleases*
  • Thymus Gland / cytology
  • Thymus Gland / physiology


  • Blood Proteins
  • Eosinophil Granule Proteins
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Ribonucleases