Eosinophil-fibroblast interactions induce fibroblast IL-6 secretion and extracellular matrix gene expression: Implications in fibrogenesis

Ignatius Gomes, Sameer K. Mathur, Bruce M. Espenshade, Yasuji Mori, John Varga, Steven J. Ackerman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


Background: Eosinophils are frequently associated with tissue remodeling and fibrosis in allergic and other diseases and animal models. Their close physical proximity to fibroblasts at sites of tissue remodeling strongly implicates them in fibrogenesis, including subepithelial fibrosis and airway remodeling characteristic of asthma. Objective: To identify the mediators and characterize the mechanisms underlying the fibrogenic activities of eosinophils. Methods: A coculture system of blood eosinophils or eosinophil cell lines with normal fibroblasts was used to assess their ability to induce a fibrogenic fibroblast phenotype, including IL-6 secretion and mRNA expression, and induction of genes involved in extracellular matrix production and homeostasis. The mediators of these responses were identified by using transwell barrier cocultures, eosinophil-conditioned media, and cytokine-specific antibody neutralization. Results: Eosinophil-fibroblast coculture induced potent fibroblast IL-6 secretion and mRNA expression, responses further enhanced by IL-5. The soluble nature of the eosinophil-derived mediators was demonstrated by using eosinophil-fibroblast coculture in the presence of permeable transwell barriers, and fibroblast culture in eosinophil-conditioned media, indicating that cell contact was not required. Induction of fibroblast IL-6 expression was accompanied by increased expression of fibronectin and the extracellular matrix regulatory genes plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 1. Antibody neutralization identified the principal eosinophil-derived mediator of fibroblast IL-6 expression as IL-1β (>60%), with lesser contributions from IL-1α, IL-4, and TGF-β (10% to 20%). Conclusion: Eosinophils express at least 2 potent mediators (IL-1β and TGF-β) that induce a fibrogenic fibroblast phenotype, strongly supporting a role for the eosinophil in the dysregulation of extracellular matrix homeostasis and consequent tissue remodeling and fibrosis in eosinophil-associated diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)796-804
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2005


  • Eosinophil
  • Fibronectin
  • Fibrosis
  • IL-1α
  • IL-1β
  • IL-5
  • IL-6
  • PAI-1
  • TGF-β
  • TIMP-1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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