Peanut allergy is a growing public concern; however, little is known about the immunological mechanism(s) that initiate the disease process. Our knowledge is also limited regarding the role of group 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2s) in regulating humoral immunity. To fill these major gaps in our knowledge, we investigated the immunological mechanisms involved in peanut allergen sensitization by using mouse models. To mimic environmental exposure in humans, naive BALB/c mice were exposed to peanut flour by inhalation without any exogenous adjuvants. When exposed to peanut flour, naive mice developed T follicular helper (Tfh) cells in their lung draining lymph nodes and produced IgE Abs to peanuts. Mice deficient in IL-13 showed decreased numbers of Tfh cells and germinal center B cells and produced significantly fewer IgE Abs. IL-13 was necessary and sufficient for induction of CD11c+ MHC class IIhi dendritic cells that are implicated in Tfh cell development. Importantly, lung ILC2s served as a predominant early source of IL-13 when naive mice were exposed to peanut flour. Furthermore, mice that are deficient in lung ILC2s by bone marrow transfer from Rorasg/sg mice or by genetic manipulation produced significantly fewer IgE Abs to peanuts compared with control mice. These findings suggest lung ILC2s that serve as a rapid source of IL-13 upon allergen exposure play a major role in Tfh cell development, IgE Ab production, and initiation of peanut allergy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy