Basophils and IgE: Linking the Allergic Environment to Autoimmunity

Nicolas Charles, Juan Rivera*
Laboratory of Molecular Immunogenetics, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, Na-tional Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.

© 2010 Charles and Rivera;

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Correspondence: * Address correspondence to this author at the NIAMS-NIH, Building 10, Room 13C103, Bethesda, MD. 20892-1930, USA; Tel: 301-496-7592; Fax: 301-480-1580; E-mail:
Presentaddress: Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherdie Médicale INSERM-699 Faculté de Médecine Xavier Bichat-Université Paris 7 Denis Diderot, 16 rue Henri Huchard, 75018, Paris, France; Tel: +33157277306; E-mail: Email:


As outlined in some of the accompanying articles in this issue, the role of the basophil as an effector cell in allergy and in host defense (particularly to parasites) has long been recognized. However, recent advances advocate for the basophil as an immunomodulatory cell that can promote naive CD4+ T cell commitment to Th2 cell differentiation. While this is in keeping with the concept that the basophil is important in an allergic environment, new discoveries suggest that basophils may be immunomodulatory beyond the context of allergic disease. Here we mainly discuss our own work, which provides a new paradigm for the role of basophils beyond allergy. Our findings demonstrate the importance of autoreactive IgE's, IL-4 and basophils in promoting autoantibody production and the development of lupus nephritis. The conclusions drawn are based on studies in a mouse model (Lyn-/- mice) of spontaneous systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)-like disease as well as from analysis of the relationship between disease activity in SLE patients and their levels of autoreactive IgE's and activated basophils with antigen presenting capability. The findings demonstrate a link between the Th2 environment and autoimmunity and provide new areas of investigation with therapeutic potential.