Interleukin-5 (IL-5) is the predominant cytokine associated with antigen-induced eosinophilic inflammation in the lung. The activation of TH2 cells leads to the production of IL-5. The proeosinophilic effects of IL-5 include 1) enhanced replication and differentiation of eosinophilic myelocytes; 2) enhanced degranulation of eosinophils; 3) prolonged survival time of eosinophils; and 4) enhanced adhesion of eosinophils. The effects of IL-5 are mediated via the interaction of IL-5 with receptors (Il-5R) expressed on the eosinophil cell membrane. Intracellular signaling produced by occupation of the IL-5R by IL-5 occurs via the JAK-STAT system. IL-5 is a 45kD glycoprotein that consists of two identical polypeptide chains. The 5′-promoter region of the IL-5 gene contains elements that are down-regulated by glucocorticoids. A 16-mer deoxyoligonucleotide, antisense to IL-5 mRNA and with two phosphorothioate modifications, produced, at 20 micromolar concentration, complete inhibition of IL-5 secretion by human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. The targeted 16-mer sequence of the IL-5 mRNA did not display complete homology with any other known human gene sequences. These results suggest that the 16-mer phosphorothioate antisense IL-5 provides the basis for a non-glucocorticoid, sequence-specific inhibitor of IL-5.
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