Background: Allergy has at least two components – a genetic predisposition referred to as atopy and the progress from an atopic state to clinically apparent disease. Peripheral blood monocytes are circulating myeloid precursors of antigen-presenting cells. The expression of cell surface proteins on monocytes may therefore witness the disease status and affect the development of allergic disease.
Methods: Monocytes were isolated from atopic individuals with seasonal allergic rhinitis (n = 10), from atopic individuals sensitized to aeroallergens but without any signs of acute disease (n = 11), and from healthy nonatopic donors (n = 21). Detailed comparative phenotypic analysis of CD14+ and FcɛRI+CD14+ monocytes was performed by flow cytometry.
Results: CD14+ monocytes from symptomatic atopic donors showed a significant increase in the cell surface intensity of the integrin adhesion molecule CD11c over monocytes from asymptomatic atopic and nonatopic donors. Asymptomatic atopic individuals showed significantly enhanced expression of FcɛRI on the CD14highCD16dim monocyte subset compared with this subset from symptomatic atopic and nonatopic donors.
Conclusion: The increase in monocyte surface intensity of the adhesion molecule CD11c may be involved in the manifestation of allergic disease. FcɛRI on CD14highCD16dim monocytes of asymptomatic atopic donors may be of functional importance for the maintenance of clinical unresponsiveness toward allergens.