The presence of a prominent tissue eosinophilia represents a typical histopathologic hallmark of Hodgkin's disease (HD). To evaluate the putative role of eosinophils on tumor cell regulation in HD, we have analyzed these cells for the functional expression of CD30 ligand (CD30L), a surface molecule able to transduce CD30-mediated proliferation signals on Hodgkin's (H) and Reed-Sternberg (RS) cells. The results demonstrate that circulating and tissue eosinophils from normal donors and patients with HD or hypereosinophilic syndrome (HES), display CD30L mRNA and express CD30L protein, as shown by immunostaining with a specific monoclonal antibody (M80) and with a biotinylated soluble CD30-Fc fusion protein. The surface density of CD30L on eosinophils from HD and HES patients was remarkably higher compared with healthy donors, probably reflecting a cytokine-mediated upregulation in these pathologic conditions. Accordingly, we provide evidence that cytokines regulating eosinophils proliferation and activation, ie, interleukin-5 (IL-5), IL-3, and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), are able to enhance the cellular density of CD30L on purified eosinophils from normal subjects. Finally, we show that native CD30L on human eosinophils is a functionally active surface structure able to transduce proliferative signals on CD30+ target cells, including cultured H-RS cells. Our data suggest that eosinophils may not merely represent innocent bystanders, but rather act as important elements in the pathology of HD by contributing to the deregulated network of CD30/CD30L-mediated interactive signals between H-RS cells and surrounding reactive cells.

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