Platelets Play a Central Role in Sensitization to Allergen

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Platelet activation occurs in patients with allergic inflammation, and platelets can be activated directly by allergen via an IgE-dependent process. Platelets have been shown to activate APCs such as CD11c+ dendritic cells in vitro. Although CD11c+ dendritic cells are a requisite for allergen sensitization, the role of platelets in this process is unknown. In this study, we investigated whether platelets were necessary for allergen sensitization. Balb/c mice sensitized to ovalbumin were exposed to subsequent aerosolized allergen (ovalbumin challenge). We analyzed lung CD11c+ cell activation, colocalization with platelets, and some other indices of inflammation. The role of platelets at the time of allergen sensitization was assessed through platelet depletion experiments restricted to the period of sensitization. Platelets colocalized with airway CD11c+ cells, and this association increased after allergen sensitization as well as after subsequent allergen exposure. Temporary platelet depletion (>95%) at the time of allergen sensitization led to a suppression of IgE and IL-4 synthesis and to a decrease in the pulmonary recruitment of eosinophils, macrophages, and lymphocytes after subsequent allergen exposure. Furthermore, in mice previously depleted of platelets at the time of sensitization, the recovered platelet population was shown to have reduced expression of FcεRI. Pulmonary CD11c+ cell recruitment was suppressed in these mice after allergen challenge, suggesting that the migration of CD11c+ cells in vivo may be dependent on direct platelet recognition of allergen. We conclude that platelets are necessary for efficient host sensitization to allergen. This propagates the subsequent inflammatory response during secondary allergen exposure and increases platelet association with airway CD11c+ cells.

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