β-Lactam hypersensitivity involves expansion of circulating and skin-resident TH22 cells.

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

β-Lactam hypersensitivity has been classified according to the phenotype and function of drug-specific T cells. However, new T-cell subsets have not been considered.

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this study was to use piperacillin as a model of β-lactam hypersensitivity to study the nature of the drug-specific T-cell response induced in the blood and skin of hypersensitive patients and healthy volunteers.

METHODS

Drug-specific T cells were cloned from blood and inflamed skin, and cellular phenotype and function were explored. Naive T cells from healthy volunteers were primed to piperacillin, cloned, and subjected to the similar analyses.

RESULTS

PBMC and T-cell clones (n = 570, 84% CD4+) from blood of piperacillin-hypersensitive patients proliferated and secreted TH1/TH2 cytokines alongside IL-22 after drug stimulation. IL-17A secretion was not detected. Drug-specific clones from inflamed skin (n = 96, 83% CD4+) secreted a similar profile of cytokines but displayed greater cytolytic activity, secreting perforin, granzyme B, and Fas ligand when activated. Blood- and skin-derived clones expressed high levels of skin-homing chemokine receptors and migrated in the presence of the ligands CCL17 and CCL27. Piperacillin-primed naive T cells from healthy volunteers also secreted IFN-γ, IL-13, IL-22, and cytolytic molecules. Aryl hydrocarbon receptor blockade prevented differentiation of the naive T cells into antigen-specific IL-22-secreting cells.

CONCLUSION

Together, our results reveal that circulating and skin-resident, antigen-specific, IL-22-secreting T cells are detectable in patients with β-lactam hypersensitivity. Furthermore, differentiation of naive T cells into antigen-specific TH22 cells is dependent on aryl hydrocarbon receptor signaling.

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