IL-4 is a potent modulator of ion transport in the human bronchial epithelium in vitro

L. J V Galietta, P. Pagesy, C. Folli, E. Caci, L. Romio, B. Costes, E. Nicolis, G. Cabrini, M. Goossens, R. Ravazzolo, O. Zegarra-Moran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent data show that proinflammatory stimuli may modify significantly ion transport in the airway epithelium and therefore the properties of the airway surface fluid. We have studied the effect of IL-4, a cytokine involved in the pathogenesis of asthma, on transepithelial ion transport in the human bronchial epithelium in vitro. Incubation of polarized bronchial epithelial cells with IL-4 for 6-48 h causes a marked inhibition of the amiloride-sensitive Na+ channel as measured in short circuit current experiments. On the other hand, IL-4 evokes a 2-fold increase in the current activated by a cAMP analog, which reflects the activity of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR). Similarly, IL-4 enhances the response to apical UTP, an agonist that activates Ca2+-dependent Cl- channels. These effects are mimicked by IL-13 and blocked by an antagonist of IL-4Rα. RT-PCR experiments show that IL-4 elicits a 7-fold decrease in the level of the γ amiloride-sensitive Na+ channel mRNA, one of the subunits of the amiloride-sensitive Na+ channel, and an increase in CFTR mRNA. Our data suggest that IL-4 may favor the hydration of the airway surface by decreasing Na+ absorption and increasing Cl- secretion. This could be required to fluidify the mucus, which is hypersecreted during inflammatory conditions. On the other hand, the modifications of ion transport could also affect the ion composition of airway surface fluid.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)839-845
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 15 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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