Immunologic Research

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 261–274

Eosinophils, ribonucleases and host defense: Solving the puzzle


DOI: 10.1007/BF02790409

Cite this article as:
Rosenberg, H.F. & Domachowske, J.B. Immunol Res (1999) 20: 261. doi:10.1007/BF02790409


The eosinophil ribonucleases eosinophil-derived neurotoxin (EDN/ RNase 2) and eosinophil cationic protein (ECP/RNase 3) are among the major secretory effector proteins of human eosinophilic leukocytes, cells whose role in host defense remains controversial and poorly understood. We have recently described the unusual manner in which this ribonuclease lineage has evolved, with extraordinary diversification observed in primate as well as in rodent EDNs and ECPs. The results of our evolutionary studies suggest that the EDN/ ECP ribonucleases are in the process of being tailored for a specific, ribonuclease-related goal. With this in mind, we have begun to look carefully at some of the intriguing associations that link eosinophils and their ribonucleases to disease caused by the single-stranded RNA viral pathogen, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Recent work in our laboratory has demonstrated that eosinophils can mediate a direct, ribonuclease-dependent reduction in infectivity of RSV in vitro, and that EDN can function alone as an independent antiviral agent. The results of this work have led us to consider the possibility that the EDN/ECP ribonucleases represent a heretofore unrecognized element of innate and specific antiviral host defense.

Key Words

Eosinophilis Ribonucleases Antiviral agents Host defense 

Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Host Defenses, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious DiseasesNational Institutes of HealthBethesda
  2. 2.Department of PediatricsState University of New York Health Science Center at SyracuseSyracuse