Substance P Release by Sensory Neurons Triggers Dendritic Cell Migration and Initiates the Type-2 Immune Response to Allergens

Immunity. 2020 Nov 17;53(5):1063-1077.e7. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2020.10.001. Epub 2020 Oct 23.


Dendritic cells (DCs) of the cDC2 lineage initiate allergic immunity and in the dermis are marked by their expression of CD301b. CD301b+ dermal DCs respond to allergens encountered in vivo, but not in vitro. This suggests that another cell in the dermis may sense allergens and relay that information to activate and induce the migration of CD301b+ DCs to the draining lymph node (dLN). Using a model of cutaneous allergen exposure, we show that allergens directly activated TRPV1+ sensory neurons leading to itch and pain behaviors. Allergen-activated sensory neurons released the neuropeptide Substance P, which stimulated proximally located CD301b+ DCs through the Mas-related G-protein coupled receptor member A1 (MRGPRA1). Substance P induced CD301b+ DC migration to the dLN where they initiated T helper-2 cell differentiation. Thus, sensory neurons act as primary sensors of allergens, linking exposure to activation of allergic-skewing DCs and the initiation of an allergic immune response.

Keywords: MRGPRA1; Substance P; TRPV1; Th2; allergy; chemotaxis; dendritic cells; sensory neurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers
  • Cell Movement / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Ganglia, Spinal / cytology
  • Hypersensitivity / diagnosis
  • Hypersensitivity / etiology*
  • Hypersensitivity / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / immunology
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / metabolism*
  • Substance P / biosynthesis*


  • Allergens
  • Biomarkers
  • Substance P