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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2007 Dec;120(6):1279-84. Epub 2007 Oct 18.

Epithelium: at the interface of innate and adaptive immune responses.

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Department of Medicine, Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.


Several diseases of the airways have a strong component of allergic inflammation in their cause, including allergic rhinitis, asthma, polypoid chronic rhinosinusitis, eosinophilic bronchitis, and others. Although the roles played by antigens and pathogens vary, these diseases have in common a pathology that includes marked activation of epithelial cells in the upper airways, the lower airways, or both. Substantial new evidence indicates an important role of epithelial cells as both mediators and regulators of innate immune responses and adaptive immune responses, as well as the transition from innate immunity to adaptive immunity. The purpose of this review is to discuss recent studies that bear on the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which epithelial cells help to shape the responses of dendritic cells, T cells, and B cells and inflammatory cell recruitment in the context of human disease. Evidence will be discussed that suggests that secreted products of epithelial cells and molecules expressed on their cell surfaces can profoundly influence both immunity and inflammation in the airways.

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