Contact sensitizers trigger human CD1-autoreactive T-cell responses

Eur J Immunol. 2017 Jul;47(7):1171-1180. doi: 10.1002/eji.201746939. Epub 2017 May 23.


Allergic contact dermatitis is a primarily T-cell-mediated inflammatory skin disease induced by exposure to small molecular-weight haptens, which covalently bind to proteins. The abundance of cutaneous T cells that recognize CD1a antigen-presenting molecules raises the possibility that MHC-independent antigen presentation may be relevant in some hapten-driven immune responses. Here we examine the ability of contact sensitizers to influence CD1-restricted immunity. Exposure of human antigen-presenting cells such as monocyte-derived dendritic cells and THP-1 cells to the prototypical contact sensitizer dinitrochlorobenzene potentiated the response of CD1a- and CD1d-autoreactive T cells, which released a vast array of cytokines in a CD1- and TCR-dependent manner. The potentiating effects of dinitrochlorobenzene depended upon newly synthesized CD1 molecules and the presence of endogenous stimulatory lipids. Further examination of a broad panel of contact sensitizers revealed 1,4-benzoquinone, resorcinol, isoeugenol, and cinnamaldehyde to activate the same type of CD1-restricted responses. These findings provide a basis for the antigen-specific activation of skin-associated CD1-restricted T cells by small molecules and may have implications for contact sensitizer-induced inflammatory skin diseases.

Keywords: Antigen-presentation; CD1; Contact sensitivity; NKT cells; T cells.

MeSH terms

  • Acrolein / analogs & derivatives
  • Acrolein / pharmacology
  • Antigen Presentation
  • Antigens, CD1 / immunology*
  • Benzoquinones / pharmacology
  • Cell Line
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Dermatitis, Contact / immunology*
  • Dinitrochlorobenzene / pharmacology
  • Eugenol / analogs & derivatives
  • Eugenol / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Lipids / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Monocytes / drug effects
  • Natural Killer T-Cells / immunology*
  • Resorcinols / pharmacology
  • Skin / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*


  • Antigens, CD1
  • Benzoquinones
  • Dinitrochlorobenzene
  • Lipids
  • Resorcinols
  • Eugenol
  • isoeugenol
  • Acrolein
  • cinnamaldehyde
  • resorcinol