Background: Mast cells play a key role in asthma and recent evidence indicates that their ongoing\ud activation in this disease is mediated, in part, via IgE in the absence of antigen. In this study we have\ud examined whether IgE alone enhances human lung mast cell (HLMC) survival.\ud Methods: Purified HLMC were cultured for 4 weeks and survival assays then performed over 10\ud days following cytokine withdrawal in the presence or absence of human myeloma IgE. Quantitative\ud real time RT-PCR was carried out to examine IL-6 mRNA expression and IL-6 protein was\ud measured in HLMC supernatants by ELISA.\ud Results: IgE alone promoted the survival of HLMC in a dose-dependent manner following cytokine\ud withdrawal. IgE-induced survival was eliminated with the addition of neutralising anti-IL-6 antibody\ud but not by the addition of neutralising anti-stem cell factor. IgE sensitisation initiated profound\ud upregulation of IL-6 mRNA in HLMC, and IL-6 concentrations were also raised in the culture\ud supernatants of IgE-exposed cells.\ud Conclusion: These data taken together suggest that IgE in the absence of antigen promotes HLMC\ud survival through the autocrine production of IL-6. This provides a further mechanism through\ud which IL-6 and IgE contribute to the pathogenesis of asthma, and through which anti-IgE therapy\ud might achieve its therapeutic effect.Peer-reviewedPublisher Versio
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