Eosinophils contribute to immune regulation and wound healing/fibrosis in various diseases, including asthma. Growing appreciation for the role of activin A in such processes led us to hypothesize that eosinophils are a source of this transforming growth factor-ß superfamily member. Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF) induces activin A by other cell types and is often present at the site of allergic inflammation along with the eosinophil-activating common ß (ßc) chain-signaling cytokines (interleukin (IL)-5, IL-3, granulocyte-macrophages colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF)). Previously, we established that the combination of TNF plus a ßc chain-signaling cytokine synergistically induces eosinophil synthesis of the remodeling enzyme matrix metalloproteinase-9. Therefore, eosinophils were stimulated ex vivo by these cytokines and in vivo through an allergen-induced airway inflammatory response. In contrast to IL-5+TNF or GM-CSF+TNF, the combination of IL-3+TNF synergistically induced activin A synthesis and release by human blood eosinophils. IL-3+TNF enhanced activin A mRNA stability, which required sustained signaling of pathways downstream of p38 and extracellular signal–regulated kinase mitogen-activated protein kinases. In vivo, following segmental airway allergen challenge of subjects with mild allergic asthma, activin A mRNA was upregulated in airway eosinophils compared with circulating eosinophils, and ex vivo, circulating eosinophils tended to release more activin A in response to IL-3+TNF. These data provide evidence that eosinophils release activin A and that this function is enhanced when eosinophils are present in an allergen-induced inflammatory environment. Moreover, these data provide the first evidence for posttranscriptional control of activin A mRNA. We propose that an environment rich in IL-3+TNF will lead to eosinophil–derived activin A, which has an important role in regulating inflammation and/or fibrosis.Immunology and Cell Biology advance online publication, 19 April 2016; doi:10.1038/icb.2016.30.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology