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J Histochem Cytochem. 2005 May;53(5):611-9.

HLA-DR- and CD11c-positive dendritic cells penetrate beyond well-developed epithelial tight junctions in human nasal mucosa of allergic rhinitis.

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Department of Otolaryngology, Sapporo Medical University School of Medicine, Sapporo 060-8556, Japan.


The epithelial barrier of the upper respiratory tract plays a crucial role in host defense. In this study, to elucidate whether there is antigen monitoring by dendritic cells (DCs) beyond the epithelial tight-junction barrier in allergic rhinitis, we investigated the expression and function of tight junctions and characterized DCs in the epithelium of nasal mucosa from patients with allergic rhinitis. In reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, mRNAs of tight-junction proteins occludin, JAM-1, ZO-1, and claudin-1, -4, -7, -8, -12, -13, and -14 were detected in the nasal mucosa. Occludin, JAM-1, and ZO-1 were colocalized in the uppermost layer in the pseudostratified epithelium of the nasal mucosa, whereas claudin-1, -4, and -7 were found throughout the epithelium. In freeze-fracture replicas of the nasal mucosa, continuous tight-junction strands formed well-developed networks. Epithelial barrier function measured by a dye tracer was well maintained in occludin-positive tight junctions in the epithelium of the nasal mucosa. HLA-DR- and CD11c-positive DCs expressed claudin-1 and penetrated beyond occludin in the epithelium of the nasal mucosa with, but not without, allergic rhinitis. These results indicate that DCs may easily access antigens beyond epithelial tight junctions in the human nasal mucosa of allergic rhinitis.

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