First published March 1, 1981 - More info
A radioimmunoassay was established for the human eosinophil granule major basic protein (MBP). The mean level of MBP in sera from 105 normal control patients was 454 ng/ml, whereas in a sample of 188 patients with various forms of diseases, including the hypereosinophilic syndrome, levels as high as 14,000 ng/ml were measured. Serum levels of MBP did not correlate with eosinophil counts in normal subjects, but a positive correlation was seen in patients with eosinophilia; the patients with eosinophil counts greater than 350/mm3 generally showed increased levels of MBP. Many patients with skin disease and normal eosinophil counts had elevated levels of serum MBP. Monomer MBP has a molecular weight of 9,300, but in sera of patients with eosinophilia, the MBP activity was of high molecular weight, greater than 50,000. Analyses of serum by Sephadex G-200 and by electrofocusing suggest that MBP is not simply polymerized, but rather is bound to a larger carrier molecule. Monomeric MBP can be isolated from serum by reduction of serum with dithiothreitol, alkylation with iodoacetamide, and acidification to pH 2 followed by fractionation on Sephadex G-50 at pH 2. Under these conditions, up to 80% of the MBP emerges in monomeric form. The results indicate that eosinophil granule proteins circulate in blood covalently bound to serum proteins, and that elevated concentrations of serum MBP are present in some diseases associated with eosinophilia.