Mayo Clinic researchers have used a comparative genomic strategy to demonstrate a causative link between eosinophils, a rare type of white blood cell, and asthma. Their research shows that the presence of these unique blood cells is absolutely required for the development of asthma. The details of this animal-based study appear in the Sept. 17, 2004, issue of Science, the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
For more than a century, scientists have known that eosinophils are often the dominant inflammatory cells present in the lungs of asthma patients, but the importance of these white blood cells has been poorly understood with some studies even discounting a role for these cells. This new study demonstrates that eosinophils are required for the mucus accumulation and the lung dysfunction associated with asthma.
Using the tools of genomics, Mayo Clinic researchers have engineered a mouse that is specifically devoid of eosinophils, but otherwise has a full complement of blood-derived cells. Disease symptoms in these transgenic mice were dramatically reduced, and in some cases completely eliminated, following exposure to an allergen that in normal animals leads to asthma.
Bob Nellis | EurekAlert!
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