Enhanced antigen transport across rat tracheal epithelium induced by sensitization and mast cell activation.
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Ag challenge to the apical surface of tracheal epithelium results in a rapid ion secretory response due to the activation of mast cells. The aim of this study was to examine the impact of sensitization and specific Ag challenge on the timing, route, and quantity of Ag transported across tracheal epithelium. After sensitization of rats to a model protein, HRP, tracheal tissues were excised and mounted in Ussing chambers. Tracheas from HRP-sensitized rats, but not naive or OVA-sensitized rats, responded to apical HRP challenge with a rise in short-circuit current (beginning at approximately 2 min). Photomicrographs of tissues fixed at 2 min showed that initial transepithelial HRP transport occurred via endosomes and was significantly enhanced in HRP-sensitized rats compared with both control groups. In addition, nonciliated cells, the proportion of which increased after sensitization, contained significantly more HRP than ciliated cells. The hypersensitivity response occurred only in HRP-sensitized and challenged rats and was associated with increased conductance of tracheal epithelium and overall flux of HRP across the tissue. This increased flux of Ag and elevated conductance was not observed in mast cell-deficient Ws/Ws rats. Photomicrographs of tissues fixed 90 min after challenge also showed HRP in the paracellular spaces between adjacent epithelial cells. We conclude that sensitization increases uptake of specific Ag initially via an endosomal transcellular pathway across tracheal epithelium and that, after the hypersensitivity reaction, mast cell-dependent recruitment of the paracellular pathway further augments Ag influx into airway tissue.
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