Basophils are rare granulocytes and dysregulated functions of these cells are associated with several atopic and non-atopic allergic diseases of skin, respiratory system and gastrointestinal tract. Both cytokines and immunoglobulin E (IgE) are implicated in mediating the basophil activation and pathogenesis of these disorders. Several reports have shown that healthy individuals, and patients with allergic disorders display IgG autoantibodies to IgE and hence functional characterization of these anti-IgE IgG autoantibodies is critical. In general, anti-IgE IgG autoantibodies modulate basophil activation irrespective of allergen specificity by interacting with constant domains of IgE. Therefore, an ideal solution to prove the functions of such anti-IgE IgG autoantibodies would be to completely eliminate type I high affinity immunoglobulin E receptor (FcɛRI)-bound IgE from the surface of basophils and to demonstrate in an unequivocal manner the role of anti-IgE IgG autoantibodies. In line with previous reports, our data show that FcɛRI on peripheral blood basophils are almost saturated with IgE. Further, acetic acid buffer (pH 4) efficiently removes these FcɛRI-bound IgE. Although immediately following acetic acid-elution of IgE had no repercussion on the viability of basophils, following 24 h culture with interleukin-3 (IL-3), the viability and yield of basophils were drastically reduced in acid-treated cells and had repercussion on the induction of activation markers. Lactic acid treatment on the other hand though had no adverse effects on the viability of basophils and IL-3-induced activation, it removed only a small fraction of the cell surface bound IgE. Thus, our results show that acid buffers could be used for the elution of FcɛRI-bound IgE on the basophil surface for the biochemical characterization of IgE antibodies or for the immediate use of basophils to determine their sensitivity to undergo degranulation by specific allergens. However, these methods are not utile for the functional assays of basophils that require longer duration of culture and entire removal of surface IgE to validate the role of anti-IgE IgG autoantibodies that interact with FcɛRI-bound IgE irrespective of allergen specificity.
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