, Volume 25, Issue 3-4, pp 325-333

Human thymic stromal lymphopoietin: a novel epithelial cell-derived cytokine and a potential key player in the induction of allergic inflammation

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Allergy is the result of a complex immune cascade leading to the dysregulated production of Th2 cytokines, the generation of allergen-specific IgE-producing B cells and the subsequent activation and degranulation of mast cells upon allergen challenge. Dendritic cells (DCs) play an important role in several models of allergy, but factors instructing DCs to induce a dysregulated Th2 response are currently unknown. In this review, we present recent evidence that human thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP), a novel IL-7-like cytokine, might represent an early trigger of the allergic immune cascade. TSLP-activated human DCs produce Th2-attracting chemokines but no IL-12, and induce naive CD4+ and CD8+ T cell differentiation into effector cells with a typical pro-allergic phenotype. TSLP is produced by human epithelial, stromal, and mast cells. It is highly expressed by the keratinocytes of atopic dermatitis but not in other types of skin inflammation. Thus, epithelial- and stromal-cell-derived TSLP might represent one of the factors initiating the allergic responses, and could be a target for a curative therapeutic approach to allergy.