Lung dendritic cells bridge innate and adaptive immunity, integrating a variety of stimuli from allergens, microbial colonisation, environmental pollution, and innate immune cells into a signal for T lymphocytes of the adaptive immune system. Dendritic cells have a pivotal role in the activation of T helper (Th) 2 cells and allergic inflammation. Lung dendritic cells can also prevent harmful immune responses to innocuous inhaled antigens via induction of regulatory T cells or Th1 cells. In our Review, we discuss how understanding the biology of dendritic cells is crucial for understanding the interaction between allergens, the environment, and genetics, and focus on how dendritic cells conspire with airway epithelial cells and innate pro-Th2 cells to cause allergic sensitisation and asthma.
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