Eosinophil Inflammation in Allergic Disease : Clinical and experimental studies in allergic asthma and allergic rhinitis

Sammanfattning: Allergic diseases are chronic inflammatory conditions, characterised by eosinophil inflammation systemically and in target organs, where cytotoxic granule proteins are responsible for tissue injury. Allergic rhinitis is known to be a risk factor for the development of asthma, yet not all with rhinitis develop asthma. The overall aim was to investigate the involvement of eosinophils in allergic rhinitis and allergic asthma in vivo and in experimental settings, with a focus on differences between rhinitis and asthma. Birch pollen allergy was used as a model and patients were studied during pollen season and after nasal and bronchial allergen challenge. During pollen season and at baseline, allergic rhinitis and allergic asthma had the same degree of systemic eosinophil inflammation. Despite this, impairment in lung function during season and increased bronchial responsiveness at baseline were more common in the asthmatics. Systemic inflammation was more pronounced after seasonal exposure than after experimental challenge. Allergic rhinitis and allergic asthma had the same degree of eosinophil airway inflammation after bronchial challenge, but only the asthmatics had increased bronchial responsiveness measured as PD20 for birch allergen. Allergen primed eosinophils were investigated in vitro for C3b-induced degranulation after seasonal and experimental challenge. The released amount of eosinophil granule proteins was within the same range for all three allergen challenge models with just minor differences in propensity for degranulation between rhinitics and asthmatics. Signalling through PI3K for degranulation was studied with the specific inhibitor Wortmannin. PI3K signalling for eosinophil degranulation was clearly involved in allergic rhinitis and allergic asthma irrespective of the model for allergen exposure. Asthmatics demonstrated less inhibition of degranulation through PI3K during pollen season, indicating that other pathways contribute to eosinophil degranulation in allergic asthmatics. Conclusion: Allergic rhinitis and allergic asthma present with the same degree of systemic and local eosinophil inflammation. The eosinophils are primed for degranulation equally and follow the same pathway through PI3K for degranulation. Our data indicates that eosinophil inflammation per se is not sufficient for the development of asthma.