Major basic protein (MBP) is a primary constituent of eosinophil granules. In this report, we demonstrate that MBP from human eosinophil granules initiates a nonlytic histamine release from human leukocytes. A direct effect of MBP on basophils was confirmed using purified human basophils. The kinetics of release were similar to those reported for poly-L-arginine, although MBP was less potent than poly-L-arginine of similar molecular weight. Reduction and alkylation of MBP diminished both the potency and efficacy of the molecule. Native MBP also stimulated histamine secretion from purified rat peritoneal mast cells in a manner characteristic of other polycations. These results emphasize the bidirectional nature of the basophil/mast cell-eosinophil regulatory axis.

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