Coeliac disease is a chronic inflammation of the intestinal mucosa controlled by gluten-specific T cells restricted by disease-associated HLA-DQ molecules. We have previously reported that mucosal CD11c(+) dendritic cells (DCs) are responsible for activation of gluten-reactive T cells within the coeliac lesion. In mice, intestinal CD11c(+) DCs comprise several functionally distinct subsets. Here, we report that HLA-DQ(+) antigen-presenting cells (APCs) in normal human duodenal mucosa can be divided into four subsets with striking similarities to those described in mice: CD163(+) CD11c(-) macrophages (74%), and CD11c(+) cells expressing either CD163 (7%), CD103 (11%) or CD1c (13%). CD103(+) and CD1c(+) DCs belonged to partly overlapping populations, whereas CD163(+) CD11c(+) APCs appeared to be a distinct population. In the coeliac lesion, we found increased density of CD163(+) CD11c(+) APCs, whereas the density of CD103(+) and CD1c(+) DCs was decreased, suggesting that distinct subpopulations of APCs in coeliac disease may exert different functions in the pathogenesis.
© 2011 The Authors. Scandinavian Journal of Immunology © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.