Natural killer and dendritic cell contact in lesional atopic dermatitis skin--Malassezia-influenced cell interaction

J Invest Dermatol. 2002 Oct;119(4):850-7. doi: 10.1046/j.1523-1747.2002.00132.x.


The regulation of dendritic cells is far from fully understood. Interestingly, several recent reports have suggested a role for natural killer cells in affecting dendritic cell maturation and function upon direct contact between the cells. It is not known if this interaction takes place also in vivo, or if a potential interaction of natural killer cells and dendritic cells would be affected by allergen exposure of the dendritic cells. The yeast Malassezia can act as an allergen in atopic eczema/dermatitis syndrome, and induce maturation of dendritic cells. Our aims were to study the distribution of natural killer cells in the skin from atopic eczema/dermatitis syndrome patients with the emphasis on possible natural killer cell-dendritic cell interaction, and to assess whether the interaction of Malassezia with dendritic cells would affect subsequent interaction between dendritic cells and natural killer cells. A few scattered natural killer (CD56+/CD3-) cells were found in the dermis of healthy individuals and in nonlesional skin from atopic eczema/dermatitis syndrome patients. In lesional skin and in biopsies from Malassezia atopy-patch-test-positive skin, however, natural killer cells were differentially distributed and for the first time we could show close contact between natural killer cells and CD1a+ dendritic cells. Dendritic cells preincubated with Malassezia became less susceptible to natural-killer-cell-induced cell death, suggesting a direct effect imposed by Malassezia upon interaction of dendritic cells with natural killer cells. These findings indicate that natural killer cells and dendritic cells can interact in the skin and that Malassezia affects the interaction between natural killer cells and dendritic cells. Our data suggest that natural killer cells may play a role in regulating dendritic cells in atopic eczema/dermatitis syndrome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Communication*
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Malassezia / physiology*


  • Cytokines