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J Invest Dermatol. 1996 Dec;107(6):871-6.

Allergen specificity of skin-infiltrating T cells is not restricted to a type-2 cytokine pattern in chronic skin lesions of atopic dermatitis.

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Department of Dermatology, Hannover Medical School, Germany.


The majority of allergen-specific T cells derived from inhalant allergen patch test lesions in patients with atopic dermatitis were previously found to produce a restricted type-2 cytokine pattern. Recent studies, however, have revealed that in chronic eczematous skin lesions of patients with atopic dermatitis, expression of the type-1 cytokine interferon-gamma predominates. To evaluate cytokine production by allergen-specific T cells in chronic atopic dermatitis, we established house dust mite (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus)-specific T-cell clones from the dermis of chronic skin lesions of sensitized adult patients with atopic dermatitis. Frequencies of skin-derived T cells proliferating in the presence of Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus were between one in 138 and one in 4255, indicating that only a minority of skin-infiltrating T cells are allergen specific. When these cells were analyzed for their capacity to produce interferon-gamma, the majority (71%) of these cells were found to express interferon-gamma mRNA and to secrete interferon-gamma protein, either alone or in combination with interleukin-4. Phenotypic analysis revealed that 15% of skin-infiltrating allergen-specific T cells were CD8+. No selection of Vbeta elements was detected in Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus-specific T-cell clones. These studies demonstrate that allergen specificity of skin-infiltrating T cells is not restricted to a type-2 cytokine pattern in lesional atopic dermatitis. The notion that the majority of allergen-specific, skin-infiltrating T cells are capable of producing interferon-gamma further supports the concept that interferon-gamma expression has major pathogenetic relevance for the chronic phase of atopic dermatitis.

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