IL-27 attenuates allergic inflammation and improves lung function in mouse models of allergic asthma. However, plasma IL-27 levels of asthma patients and the association with clinical features remain poorly understood.
This study examined plasma IL-27 protein expression in untreated asthma patients and controls, analyzed its correlation with Th2 inflammation and lung function, and evaluated the effect of corticosteroids on IL-27 expression.
Plasma IL-27 levels were lower in untreated asthma patients compared to controls. Plasma IL-27 levels were inversely correlated with sputum IL-5 mRNA expression in Th2 group. The Th2IL-27 subgroup suffered from the highest airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) and the worst pulmonary function. The patients in Th2IL-27 subgroup were less likely to be atopic and had the worst improvement of symptoms after four weeks of standard treatment. In vitro, dexamethasone could decrease the expression of IL-27 in THP-1 cell line. The majority of asthma patients had further decreased IL-27 levels after standard treatment, whereas patients with sustained high levels of IL-27 post-treatment had more blood neutrophils at baseline compared with those without.
The results indicate that low levels of IL-27 in peripheral blood are closely related to Th2 inflammation and lung function of asthma patients. Low IL-27 levels in combination with high Th2 inflammation identify an asthma phenotype with high AHR and substantial response to corticosteroids. Understanding of this interaction could help to elucidate the inherent inflammation heterogeneity of asthma.

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