During differentiation into eosinophils, eosinophil-lineage committed progenitors (EoPs) go through intermediate stages prior to reaching maturity. A number of stimulatory and inhibitory factors regulate these events. We have developed ex vivo culture methods to differentiate EoPs into mature eosinophils in order to identify novel regulators of eosinophil development (i.e. eosinophilopoiesis). We can also apply these methods to study genetic modifications of EoPs and the downstream effects on eosinophilopoiesis, as well as to generate large numbers of mature cells to investigate eosinophil effector functions.
Furthermore, eosinophils are exquisitely sensitive to their local microenvironment through expression of a plethora of receptors for cytokines, lipids and microbial products. Our high-yield culture methods allow for investigations into the regulation of these environmental sensors. These investigations could provide insight into eosinophil functional responses, such as the local degranulation and release of cytotoxic proteins, in tissues such as the lung in a patient with asthma or the esophagus in a patient with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE).