Résumé : BACKGROUND: Eosinophils participate in allograft rejection when donor-reactive helper T lymphocytes are T-helper type 2 (Th2)-biased. Whereas the involvement of interleukin (IL)-4 and IL-5 in these forms of rejection is well established, the role of IL-9, another Th2-type cytokine promoting eosinophilia, has not been determined. METHODS: We first used real-time polymerase chain reaction to quantify IL-9 mRNA in rejected allografts in a mouse model of fully mismatched heart transplantation in which recipients were devoid of CD8 T cells and developed a Th2 alloimmune response. We then compared allograft survival in wild-type versus IL-9-deficient mice depleted of CD8 T cells. Finally, we compared the fate of major histocompatibility complex class II-mismatched cardiac transplants from wild-type versus IL-9 transgenic donors to determine the influence of IL-9 overexpression within the graft. RESULTS: The Th2 alloimmune response in CD8-deficient mice was associated with the accumulation of IL-9 mRNA in the rejected graft. In IL-9-deficient recipients depleted of CD8 T cells, eosinophil infiltration of heart allografts did not develop, but rejection still occurred. In the major histocompatibility complex class II disparate model, heart allografts from IL-9 transgenic donors were acutely rejected, whereas grafts from wild-type donors did not develop rejection. Acute rejection of IL-9 transgenic hearts was associated with massive eosinophil infiltration and prevented by neutralization of either IL-4 or IL-5. CONCLUSION: IL-9 is critically involved in heart transplant eosinophilia in conjunction with IL-4 and IL-5.