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Research Article

Endobronchial allergen challenge in asthma. Demonstration of cellular source of granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor by in situ hybridization.

D H Broide and G S Firestein

Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego 92103.

Published September 1991

Airway inflammation is thought to play an important role in the pathogenesis of asthma. We have used in situ hybridization and an immunoassay to determine whether granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) (a cytokine capable of eosinophil activation) is present in the airway of asthmatics (n = 6) who have 37.0 +/- 15.1% airway eosinophilia after endobronchial allergen challenge. Levels of immunoreactive GM-CSF (less than 4 pg/ml pre-allergen versus 180.5 +/- 46.9 pg/ml post-allergen) increased significantly 24 h after endobronchial allergen stimulation. The cellular source of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) GM-CSF, as determined by in situ hybridization and immunoperoxidase staining, was derived predominantly from UCHL-1 positive BAL lymphocytes, as well as from a smaller population of alveolar macrophages. Before local endobronchial allergen challenge, less than 1% of lymphocytes and alveolar macrophages recovered by BAL expressed GM-CSF mRNA, whereas after allergen stimulation 92.6 +/- 3.4% of lymphocytes and 17.5 +/- 22.7% of alveolar macrophages expressed GM-CSF mRNA. This study provides evidence that in an experimental model of allergen-induced asthma, activation of the immune and inflammatory response (BAL lymphocyte and alveolar macrophage production of GM-CSF) is temporally associated with an inflammatory cell influx of eosinophils into the airway.

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