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Keywords:

  • 2,4-dinitrochlorobenzene;
  • contact allergen;
  • cytokine;
  • dendritic cell;
  • Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus;
  • nickel sulfate;
  • oxazolone;
  • polarization;
  • respiratory allergen;
  • trimellitic anhydride

Type 1 and type 2 cytokines are primary mediators in contact allergy and aeroallergen-mediated disorders, respectively. For both types of disease, dendritic cells (DCs) are pivotal in initiating immune hyperresponsiveness. We studied whether contact and respiratory allergens possess intrinsic capacities to polarize DC towards DC1 and DC2 functions, independent of environmental factors. Human monocyte-derived DCs were exposed to the positive controls [type 1: lipopolysaccharide (LPS) + interferon-γ; type 2: LPS + prostaglandin E2], contact allergens [2,4-dinitrochlorobenzene (DNCB), oxazolone (OXA), and nickel sulfate (NiSO4)], and respiratory allergens [trimellitic anhydride (TMA) and the protein allergen derived from Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (Der p1)]. The polarizing potentials of the allergens on DCs were determined by the secretion of type 1 [tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), CXCL10, and interleukin (IL)-12p70] and type 2 (IL-10) cytokines. The contact allergens, DNCB and OXA, induced strict type 1 DC polarization, whereas the respiratory allergens, TMA and Der p1, showed strict type 2 DC polarization. The contact allergen, NiSO4, induced both DC1 (TNF-α and CXCL10 production) and DC2 (decreased IL-12p70/IL-10 ratio) features. These results support the view that allergens have an intrinsic capacity to skew immune responses at the DC level, irrespective of local factors such as those determined by cutaneous or mucosal epithelial microenvironments.