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Cytokines such as interleukin 1 (IL-1) promote adhesiveness in human umbilical vein endothelial cells for leukocytes including basophils, eosinophils, and neutrophils, and induce expression of adherence molecules including ICAM-1 (intercellular adhesion molecule-1), ELAM-1 (endothelial-leukocyte adhesion molecule-1), and VCAM-1 (vascular cell adhesion molecule-1). In the present study, blocking monoclonal antibodies (mAb) recognizing ICAM-1, ELAM-1, and VCAM-1 have been used to compare their roles in IL-1-induced adhesion of human basophils, eosinophils, and neutrophils. IL-1 treatment of endothelial cell monolayers for 4 hours induced a four- to eight-fold increase in adhesion for each cell type. Treatment of endothelial cells with either anti-ICAM-1 or anti-ELAM-1 mAb inhibited IL-1-induced adherence of each cell type. In contrast, treatment with anti-VCAM-1 mAb inhibited basophil and eosinophil (but not neutrophil) adhesion, and was especially effective in blocking eosinophil adhesion. The effects of these mAb were at least additive. Indirect immunofluorescence and flow cytometry demonstrated expression of VLA-4 alpha (very late activation antigen-4 alpha, a counter-receptor for VCAM-1) on eosinophils and basophils but not on neutrophils. These data document distinct roles for ICAM-1, ELAM-1, and VCAM-1 during basophil, eosinophil, and neutrophil adhesion in vitro, and suggest a novel mechanism for the recruitment of eosinophils and basophils to sites of inflammation in vivo.