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Allergy. 2000 May;55(5):449-54.

Dendritic cell number is related to IL-4 expression in the airways of atopic asthmatic subjects.

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Department of Respiratory Disease, University of Parma, Italy.



Airway dendritic cells are essential for stimulating naive T cells in response to inhaled antigen and for the development of allergic sensitization. IL-4 in vitro can distinguish dendritic cell lines from peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Our study had the following aims: 1) to compare the distribution of CD1a+ dendritic cells and IL-4+ cells, in the bronchial mucosa of asthmatics and controls 2) to determine the relationship between the numbers of CD1a+ dendritic cells and IL-4+ cells in the bronchial mucosa of asthmatics 3) to determine whether CD1a+ cells express the IL-4 receptor.


Twenty atopic asthmatic and eight normal subjects were studied. In each subject, bronchoscopy with bronchial biopsies was performed. CD1a, IL-4, and IL-4 receptor expressions were evaluated by immunohistochemistry.


The number of CD1a+ and IL-4+ cells was significantly higher in asthmatics than controls. The number of CD1a+ cells was positively correlated to the number of IL-4 + cells. Bronchial biopsy serial section studies showed that CD1a+ cells express the receptor for IL-4.


These results suggest that an increased amount of IL-4 may play a physiopathologic role in maintaining the dendritic cell pool in vivo. Therefore, because of possible IL-4 activity on antigen-presenting cells in T-cell immune responses to allergens, an important new role of IL-4 in asthma inflammation can be envisaged.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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