, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 92-98
Date: 18 Mar 2010

Dangerous Allergens: Why Some Allergens are Bad Actors

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Abstract

Immune responses can be compartmentalized into innate versus adaptive components. This relatively recent dichotomy positioned the innate immune system at the interface between the host and the external environment and provided a new conceptual framework with which to view allergic diseases, including asthma. Airway epithelial cells and dendritic cells are key components of the innate immune system in the nose and lung and are now known to be intimately involved in allergen recognition and in modulating allergic immune responses. Here we review current thinking about how these two key cell types sense and respond to inhaled allergens, and emphasize how an understanding of “allergic innate immunity” can translate into new thinking about mechanisms of allergen sensitization and potentially lead to new therapeutic targets.