Enhanced plasmacytoid dendritic cell antiviral responses after omalizumab

Michelle A. Gill, Andrew H. Liu, Agustin Calatroni, Rebecca Z. Krouse, Baomei Shao, Allison Schiltz, James E. Gern, Alkis Togias, William W. Busse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

132 Scopus citations


Background: Atopy and viral respiratory tract infections synergistically promote asthma exacerbations. IgE cross-linking inhibits critical virus-induced IFN-α responses of plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs), which can be deficient in patients with allergic asthma. Objective: We sought to determine whether reducing IgE levels in vivo with omalizumab treatment increases pDC antiviral IFN-α responses in inner-city children with asthma. Methods: PBMCs and pDCs isolated from children with exacerbation-prone asthma before and during omalizumab treatment were stimulated ex vivo with rhinovirus and influenza in the presence or absence of IgE cross-linking. IFN-α levels were measured in supernatants, and mRNA expression of IFN-α pathway genes was determined by using quantitative RT-PCR (qRT-PCR) in cell pellets. FcεRIα protein levels and mRNA expression were measured in unstimulated cells by using flow cytometry and qRT-PCR, respectively. Changes in these outcomes and associations with clinical outcomes were analyzed, and statistical modeling was used to identify risk factors for asthma exacerbations. Results: Omalizumab treatment increased rhinovirus- and influenza-induced PBMC and rhinovirus-induced pDC IFN-α responses in the presence of IgE cross-linking and reduced pDC surface FcεRIα expression. Omalizumab-induced reductions in pDC FcεRIα levels were significantly associated with a lower asthma exacerbation rate during the outcome period and correlated with increases in PBMC IFN-α responses. PBMC FcεRIα mRNA expression measured on study entry significantly improved an existing model of exacerbation prediction. Conclusions: These findings indicate that omalizumab treatment augments pDC IFN-α responses and attenuates pDC FcεRIα protein expression and provide evidence that these effects are related. These results support a potential mechanism underlying clinical observations that allergic sensitization is associated with increased susceptibility to virus-induced asthma exacerbations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1735-1743.e9
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018


  • FcεRα
  • IFN-α
  • IgE
  • Plasmacytoid dendritic cells
  • asthma
  • omalizumab
  • rhinovirus


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