A novel role for neutrophils in IgE-mediated allergy: Evidence for antigen presentation in late-phase reactions

Dominika Polak, Christine Hafner, Peter Briza, Claudia Kitzmüller, Adelheid Elbe-Bürger, Nazanin Samadi, Maria Gschwandtner, Wolfgang Pfützner, Gerhard J Zlabinger, Beatrice Jahn-Schmid, Barbara Bohle

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

45 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Neutrophils and allergen-specific T cells accumulate in patients with allergic late-phase reactions (LPRs). Their presence is associated with severe inflammation. Cytokines, such as GM-CSF, IFN-γ, and IL-3, which are typically found in patients with allergic LPRs, have been proposed to convert neutrophils into antigen-presenting cells (APCs).

OBJECTIVE: We sought to assess the antigen-processing and antigen-presenting capacities of neutrophils from allergic patients.

METHODS: Neutrophils were isolated from peripheral blood of donors with birch pollen allergy and stimulated with GM-CSF, IFN-γ, and IL-3. The viability and expression of HLA-DR, CD80, and CD86 were assessed by using flow cytometry. HLA-DM expression was analyzed by means of immunoblotting. Allergen uptake was studied after fluorescence labeling of the major birch pollen allergen Bet v 1. Bet v 1 was digested with neutrophilic endolysosomal extracts, and the resulting fragments were sequenced by using mass spectrometry. Neutrophils were used as APCs in coculture experiments with autologous HLA-DR-restricted and Bet v 1-specific T-cell clones reactive with epitopes in different regions of the allergen. In all experiments monocytes were used for comparison. Fluids from suction blisters formed on top of LPRs induced by using intradermal allergen injection were assessed for HLA-DR+ neutrophils by using flow cytometry.

RESULTS: The cytokines significantly enhanced the survival, allergen uptake, and expression of HLA-DM and HLA-DR on neutrophils. Neutrophils rapidly degraded Bet v 1 into fragments containing all relevant T-cell epitopes. Cytokine-activated, allergen-pulsed neutrophils induced proliferative and cytokine responses of Bet v 1-specific T cells irrespective of epitope specificity, confirming that they fully processed and presented the allergen. HLA-DR+ neutrophils were detected in patients with cutaneous allergic LPRs.

CONCLUSION: Neutrophils can serve as APCs for local allergen-specific effector T cells in patients with allergic LPRs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1143-1152.e4
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


  • Allergens/immunology
  • Antigen Presentation
  • Betula/immunology
  • Cytokines/immunology
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity/immunology
  • Immunoglobulin E/immunology
  • Neutrophils/immunology
  • Pollen/immunology
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal/immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes/immunology


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