Journal of interferon & cytokine research : the official journal of the International Society for Interferon and Cytokine Research

Upregulated interleukin-21 receptor on B cells associated with the downregulation of IgE in patients with allergic rhinitis.

PMID 25007029


Allergic diseases, such as allergic rhinitis, caused by an immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated reaction to specific allergens are a common chronic condition worldwide. Interleukin-21 (IL-21), a type I cytokine that is produced by T cells, exerts regulatory effects on a variety of immune cells. In our previous study, we found that serum levels of IL-21 were significantly decreased in patients with severe atopic dermatitis, suggesting that IL-21 might play a role in allergic reactions. In this study, we investigated the role of IL-21/IL-21 receptor (IL-21R) in patients with allergic rhinitis. Our results demonstrated that there was no difference in IL-21 serum levels between allergic rhinitis patients and controls. However, allergic patients had significantly increased expression of IL-21R on naive and memory B cells. IL-21R was upregulated through stimulation by the combination of CD40 ligand (CD40L) and IL-4. IL-21 alone neither induced nor inhibited IgE secretion from CD40L-stimulated B cells. However, IL-21 inhibited IgE secretion of B cells that were induced by the combination of CD40L and IL-4 in allergic patients. Moreover, a negative correlation between the expression of IL-21R and serum levels of IgE was found in patients with allergy. These results suggest that the role of IL-21 in an ongoing allergic reaction is to downregulate the IgE level by binding to IL-21R on B cells, which increases the expression in allergic patients.