Mucosal Type 2 Innate Lymphoid Cells Are a Key Component of the Allergic Response to Aeroallergens

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2017 Jun 15;195(12):1586-1596. doi: 10.1164/rccm.201609-1846OC.


Rationale: Newly characterized type 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2s) display potent type 2 effector functionality; however, their contribution to allergic airways inflammation and asthma is poorly understood. Mucosal biopsy used to characterize the airway mucosa is invasive, poorly tolerated, and does not allow for sequential sampling.

Objectives: To assess the role of ILC2s during nasal allergen challenge in subjects with allergic rhinitis using novel noninvasive methodology.

Methods: We used a human experimental allergen challenge model, with flow cytometric analysis of nasal curettage samples, to assess the recruitment of ILC2s and granulocytes to the upper airways of subjects with atopy and healthy subjects after allergen provocation. Soluble mediators in the nasal lining fluid were measured using nasosorption.

Measurements and main results: After an allergen challenge, subjects with atopy displayed rapid induction of upper airway symptoms, an enrichment of ILC2s, eosinophils, and neutrophils, along with increased production of IL-5, prostaglandin D2, and eosinophil and T-helper type 2 cell chemokines compared with healthy subjects. The most pronounced ILC2 recruitment was observed in subjects with elevated serum IgE and airway eosinophilia.

Conclusions: The rapid recruitment of ILC2s to the upper airways of allergic patients with rhinitis, and their association with key type 2 mediators, highlights their likely important role in the early allergic response to aeroallergens in the airways. The novel methodology described herein enables the analysis of rare cell populations from noninvasive serial tissue sampling.

Keywords: ILC2; Th2; allergic airway inflammation; asthma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology
  • Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasal Mucosa / immunology*
  • Rhinitis, Allergic / immunology*
  • Th2 Cells / immunology
  • Young Adult


  • Allergens