Asthma is characterized by infiltration of the airway wall with eosinophils. Although eosinophils are considered to be effector cells, recent studies have reported their ability to activate primed Th2 cells. In this study, we investigated whether eosinophils are capable of presenting Ag to unprimed T cells in draining lymph nodes (DLN) of the lung and compared this capacity with professional dendritic cells (DC). During development of eosinophilic airway inflammation in OVA-sensitized and challenged mice, CCR3(+) eosinophils accumulated in the DLN. To study their function, eosinophils were isolated from the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid of mice by sorting on CCR3(+)B220(-)CD3(-)CD11c(dim) low autofluorescent cells, avoiding contamination with other APCs, and were intratracheally injected into mice that previously received CFSE-labeled OVA TCR-transgenic T cells. Eosinophils did not induce divisions of T cells in the DLN, whereas DC induced on average 3.7 divisions in 45.7% of T cells. To circumvent the need for Ag processing or migration in vivo, eosinophils were pulsed with OVA peptide and were still not able to induce T cell priming in vitro, whereas DC induced vigorous proliferation. This lack of Ag-presenting ability was explained by the very weak expression of MHC class II on fresh eosinophils, despite expression of the costimulatory molecules CD80 and ICAM-1. This investigation does not support any role for airway eosinophils as APCs to naive T cells, despite their migration to the DLN at times of allergen exposure. DC are clearly superior in activating T cells in the DLN of the lung.

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Journal of Immunology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van Rijt, L., Vos, N., Hijdra, D., de Vries, V., Hoogsteden, H., & Lambrecht, B. (2003). Airway eosinophils accumulate in the mediastinal lymph nodes but lack antigen-presenting potential for naive T cells. Journal of Immunology. Retrieved from