T helper 9 (Th9) cells contribute to lung inflammation and allergy as sources of interleukin-9 (IL-9). However, the mechanisms by which IL-9/Th9 mediate immunopathology in the lung are unknown. Here we report an IL-9-driven positive feedback loop that reinforces allergic inflammation. We show that IL-9 increases IL-2 production by mast cells, which leads to expansion of CD25 + type 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2) and subsequent activation of Th9 cells. Blocking IL-9 or inhibiting CD117 (c-Kit) signalling counteracts the pathogenic effect of the described IL-9-mast cell-IL-2 signalling axis. Overproduction of IL-9 is observed in expectorates from cystic fibrosis (CF) patients, and a sex-specific variant of IL-9 is predictive of allergic reactions in female patients. Our results suggest that blocking IL-9 may be a therapeutic strategy to ameliorate inflammation associated with microbial colonization in the lung, and offers a plausible explanation for gender differences in clinical outcomes of patients with CF.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)