We studied the effects of growth hormone (GH), insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I), IGF-II, and insulin on human immunoglobulin E (IgE) and IgG4 production. GH and IGF-I induced IgE and IgG4 production by normal donors' mononuclear cells (MNC) depleted of sIgE+ and sIgG4+ B cells without affecting IgM, IgG1, IgG2, IgG3, IgA1, or IgA2 production, whereas IGF-II and insulin failed to do so. GH-induced IgE and IgG4 production was specific, and was not mediated by IGF-I, interleukin 4 (IL-4), or IL-13, since it was blocked by anti-GH antibody (Ab), but not by anti-IGF-I Ab, anti-IL-4 Ab, or anti-IL-13 Ab. Conversely, IGF-I-induced IgE and IgG4 production was blocked by anti-IGF-I Ab, but not by anti-GH Ab, anti-IL-4 Ab, or anti-IL-13 Ab. Moreover, interferon alpha (IFN-alpha) or IFN-gamma, which counteracted IL-4-and IL-13-induced IgE and IgG4 production, had no effect on induction by GH or IGF-I. In contrast to MNC, GH or IGF-I failed to induce IgE and IgG4 production by purified sIgE-, sIgG4- B cells. However, in the presence of anti-CD40 monoclonal antibody (mAb), GH or IGF-I induced IgE and IgG4 production by these cells. Purified sIgE+, but not sIgE-, B cells from atopic patients spontaneously produced IgE. GH or IGF-I with anti-CD40 mAb failed to enhance IgE production by sIgE+ B cells, whereas they induced IgE production by sIgE- B cells. Similarly, whereas GH or IGF-I with anti-CD40 mAb failed to enhance IgG4 production by sIgG4+ B cells from atopic patients, they induced IgG4 production by sIgG4- B cells. Again, neither IgE nor IgG4 induction was blocked by anti-IL-4 Ab or anti-IL-13 Ab. These results indicate that GH and IGF-I induce IgE and IgG4 production by class switching in an IL-4- and IL-13-independent mechanism.