Epithelial cell-expressed type II IL-4 receptor mediates eosinophilic esophagitis

Shmulik Avlas, Guy Shani, Natalie Rhone, Michal Itan, Avishay Dolitzky, Inbal Hazut, Sharon Grisaru-Tal, Yaara Gordon, Tetsuo Shoda, Adina Ballaban, Netali Morgenstern Ben-Baruch, Mark Rochman, Yael Diesendruck, Limor Nahary, Almog Bitton, Zamir Halpern, Itai Benhar, Chen Varol, Marc E. Rothenberg, Ariel Munitz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is a chronic, food-driven allergic disease, characterized by eosinophil-rich inflammation in the esophagus. The histopathological and clinical features of EoE have been attributed to overproduction of the type 2 cytokines IL-4 and IL-13, which mediate profound alterations in the esophageal epithelium and neutralizing of their shared receptor component (IL-4Rα) with a human antibody drug (dupilumab) demonstrates clinical efficacy. Yet, the relative contribution of IL-4 and IL-13 and whether the type II IL-4 receptor (comprised of the IL-4Rα chain in association with IL-13Rα1) mediates this effect has not been determined. Methods: Experimental EoE was induced in WT, Il13ra1−/−, and Krt14Cre/Il13ra1fl/fl mice by skin-sensitized using 4-ethoxymethylene-2-phenyl-2-oxazolin (OXA) followed by intraesophageal challenges. Esophageal histopathology was determined histologically. RNA was extracted and sequenced for transcriptome analysis and compared with human EoE RNAseq data. Results: Induction of experimental EoE in mice lacking Il13ra1 and in vivo IL-13 antibody-based neutralization experiments blocked antigen-induced esophageal epithelial and lamina propria thickening, basal cell proliferation, eosinophilia, and tissue remodeling. In vivo targeted deletion of Il13ra1 in esophageal epithelial cells rendered mice protected from experimental EoE. Single-cell RNA sequencing analysis of human EoE biopsies revealed predominant expression of IL-13Rα1 in epithelial cells and that EoE signature genes correlated with IL-13 expression compared with IL-4. Conclusions: We demonstrate a definitive role for IL-13 signaling via IL-13Rα1 in EoE. These data provide mechanistic insights into the mode of action of current therapies in EoE and highlight the type II IL-4R as a future therapeutic target.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)464-476
Number of pages13
JournalAllergy: European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2023


  • IL-13
  • IL-13 receptor α1
  • allergy
  • eosinophilic esophagitis
  • eosinophils


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