Eosinophils are leukocytes that are released into the peripheral blood in a phenotypically mature state and are capable of being recruited into tissues in response to appropriate stimuli. Eosinophils, traditionally considered cytotoxic effector cells, are leukocytes recruited into the airways of asthma patients where they are believed to contribute to the development of many features of the disease. This perception, however, has been challenged by recent findings suggesting that eosinophils have also immunomodulatory functions and may be involved in tissue homeostasis and wound healing. Here we describe a transcriptome-based approach-in a limited number of patients and controls-to investigate the activation state of circulating human eosinophils isolated by flow cytometry. We provide an overview of the global expression pattern in eosinophils in various relevant conditions, e.g., eosinophilic asthma, hypereosinophilic dermatological diseases, parasitosis and pulmonary aspergillosis. Compared to healthy subjects, circulating eosinophils isolated from asthma patients differed in their gene expression profile which is marked by downregulation of transcripts involved in antigen presentation, pathogen recognition and mucosal innate immunity, whereas up-regulated genes were involved in response to non-specific stimulation, wounding and maintenance of homeostasis. Eosinophils from other hypereosinophilic disorders displayed a very similar transcriptional profile. Taken together, these observations seem to indicate that eosinophils exhibit non-specific immunomodulatory functions important for tissue repair and homeostasis and suggest new roles for these cells in asthma immunobiology.
Adult, Aged, Asthma, Eosinophils, Female, Gene Expression Profiling, Gene Expression Regulation, Humans, Hypereosinophilic Syndrome, Male, Middle Aged, Transcriptome