Background In spite of significant safety measures, allergy to industrial enzymes remains a major concern. The increasing prevalence of occupational allergy emphasizes the need to investigate the functional properties of enzyme-exposed dendritic cells (DCs), as DCs possess a potent ability to activate allergen-specific T cells.
Objective This study aims at elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying allergic immune responses to lipase, an industrial enzyme. For this purpose, we studied the effect of both hypoallergenic and wild-type lipase on the transcriptional regulation in DCs and their stimulatory effect on memory CD4+ T cells.
Methods Five individuals with documented lipase allergy were tested for specific serum IgE. DCs from these individuals, stimulated with lipases, were assayed for their ability to affect proliferation and polarization of memory T cells. The effect of lipases on transcriptional activity in DCs was evaluated using global expression analysis.
Results Lipase-specific IgE levels varied considerably between donors, with donor 4 exhibiting highest levels, and a potent specific CD4+ T cell recall response was demonstrated only for donor 4. No difference was detected in cytokine profile when T cells from donor 4 were co-cultured with DCs pulsed with either hypoallergenic or wild-type lipase, as demonstrated by high IL-4 and IL-13, and low IFN-γ production. However, the lipases induced different genetic signatures in DCs from donor 4, as compared with the non-responders.
Conclusions DCs from individuals with clinically diagnosed allergy to lipase displayed a differential response to stimulation with hypoallergenic and wild-type lipase in vitro. Only allergen-pulsed DCs from donor 4 were able to induce CD4+ T cell proliferation. The lipase-specific T cells displayed a T-helper type 2 phenotype, which was not altered by hypoallergenic lipase-pulsed DCs. Furthermore, DCs derived from donor 4 and stimulated with either of the lipases displayed different transcriptional profiles, as compared with the other donors. These signatures represent genes of potential importance for an immunoregulatory role of DC in an ongoing allergic response.