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J Immunol. 2006 Sep 15;177(6):3577-81.

Dendritic cell modulation by mast cells controls the Th1/Th2 balance in responding T cells.

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  • 1Experimental Immunology Branch, National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


The cytokines secreted by pathogen-activated human dendritic cells (DC) are strongly regulated in vitro by histamine, a major component of mast cell granules, ultimately modulating the capacity of the DC to polarize naive T cells. Because DC and mast cells are located in close proximity in peripheral compartments, we hypothesized that mast cell products would influence the maturation of DC and hence the Th balance of an immune response in vivo. In this study, we show that specific mast cell degranulation stimuli, given s.c. in mice with Ag and adjuvant, produce effector T cells that proliferate to Ag but secrete dramatically reduced levels of IFN-gamma and increased amounts of IL-4 compared with control T cells primed in the absence of a mast cell stimulus. Immunization with Ag and adjuvant in the presence of a degranulation stimulus also resulted in the accumulation of DC in the draining lymph nodes that had reduced capacity to induce Ag-specific Th1 cells, in comparison with DC from mice lacking a degranulation stimulus. Therefore, by acting upon DC at sites of inflammation, mast cells play a critical role in determining the polarity of Ag-specific T cell responses in vivo.

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