Location of eosinophils in the airway wall is critical for specific features of airway hyperresponsiveness and T2 inflammation in asthma

Taha Al-Shaikhly, Ryan C. Murphy, Andrew Parker, Ying Lai, Matthew C. Altman, Megan Larmore, William A. Altemeier, Charles W. Frevert, Jason S. Debley, Adrian M. Piliponsky, Steven F. Ziegler, Michael C. Peters, Teal S. Hallstrand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background Eosinophils are implicated as effector cells in asthma, but the functional implications of the precise location of eosinophils in the airway wall is poorly understood. We aimed to quantify eosinophils in the different compartments of the airway wall and associate these findings with clinical features of asthma and markers of airway inflammation. Methods In this cross-sectional study, we utilised design-based stereology to accurately partition the numerical density of eosinophils in both the epithelial compartment and the subepithelial space (airway wall area below the basal lamina including the submucosa) in individuals with and without asthma and related these findings to airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) and features of airway inflammation. Results Intraepithelial eosinophils were linked to the presence of asthma and endogenous AHR, the type that is most specific for asthma. In contrast, both intraepithelial and subepithelial eosinophils were associated with type 2 (T2) inflammation, with the strongest association between IL5 expression and intraepithelial eosinophils. Eosinophil infiltration of the airway wall was linked to a specific mast cell phenotype that has been described in asthma. We found that interleukin (IL)-33 and IL-5 additively increased cysteinyl leukotriene (CysLT) production by eosinophils and that the CysLT LTC4 along with IL-33 increased IL13 expression in mast cells and altered their protease profile. Conclusions We conclude that intraepithelial eosinophils are associated with endogenous AHR and T2 inflammation and may interact with intraepithelial mast cells via CysLTs to regulate airway inflammation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2101865
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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