Dendritic cells (DC) are potent initiators of immune responses, compared to other professional antigen-presenting cells, based on their ability to capture antigen, express high amounts of MHC and co-stimulatory molecules, and to secrete immunostimulatory cytokines. Altered functions of DC in atopic individuals have been observed, though it is not clear if this is a cause or a result of the development of allergic disease. In this report we demonstrate altered cytokine production by DC isolated from infants with atopic dermatitis but without a diagnosis of asthma, compared to infants with non-atopic dermatitis. Increased production of IL-6, IL-10 and IFNα from DC isolated from atopic infants is less apparent when DC from infants were examined 1 year later. An increase in the same cytokines was observed in neonatal mice that are genetically predisposed towards allergic inflammation. These results suggest that an atopic environment promotes altered cytokine production by DC from infants.
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