Scientific publications

Secretion of cytokines, histamine and leukotrienes in chronic urticaria

Ferrer M, Luquin E, Moreno C, Sanz ML, Kaplan AP.
Department of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Clínica Universitaria, Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain

Magazine: International Archives of allergy and immunology

Date: Nov 1, 2002

Immunology [SP] Allergology and Immunology Department

Approximately 35-40% of patients with chronic urticaria have an IgG autoantibody to the IgE receptor which can activate basophils and mast cells so that they release histamine. In this study we assessed the cytokine profile present in chronic urticaria sera, and then measured cytokine and leukotriene release from basophils and mast cells upon incubation with chronic urticaria sera. Finally we assessed cytokine expression at the single-cell level and characterized the T cell subpopulations involved in their production. We chose IL-4 as representative of Th2 lymphocytes and IFN-gamma for Th1 lymphocytes.

We analyzed IL-4, IL-5 and IFN-gamma in 60 chronic urticaria sera versus 51 controls. Sera were incubated with purified human basophils and cutaneous mast cells and the release of histamine, IL-4 and leukotrienes (C(4), D(4), E(4)) was quantitated. Immunoblotting was performed to identify IgG antibody to FcepsilonRIalpha, alpha subunit. We measured intracellular cytokine production in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of 17 chronic urticaria patients compared to 50 healthy controls.

We found higher IL-4 levels (p = 0.028) in the sera of chronic urticaria patients (1.03 pg/ml) versus healthy donors (0.20 pg/ml) but no difference between urticaria sera and atopic control sera (0.52 pg/ml). We did not detect IFN-gamma or IL-5 in any serum. However, sera that activated basophils so that they released histamine also produced leukotriene and IL-4, and leukotriene production by cutaneous mast cells and basophils was closely correlated. However, there was no correlation between immunoblotting and the functional ability to induce either histamine or IL-4. After stimulating with PMA-ionomycin we found significant differences in CD4+ lymphocyte production of IL-4 and IFN-gamma with no differences in CD8+ lymphocyte production of either cytokine.

Our data support the presence of basophil and mast cell activators in the sera of patients with chronic urticaria which can lead to the production of leukotrienes and IL-4 in addition to the histamine. IL-4 levels are similar to those seen in atopic subjects. We found that CD4+ T cells from patients with chronic urticaria are activated and tend to produce higher cytokine levels than CD4+ T cells from healthy controls. There were no differences when cytokine production by CD8+ lymphocytes was similarly assessed. These results are consistent with the histology found in biopsies of chronic urticaria lesions, where a CD4+-predominant infiltrate is found with cytokine production suggesting either a Th0 response or a mixture of Th1 and Th2 lymphocytes.

CITATION  Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2002 Nov;129(3):254-60

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