Generation of experimental allergic airways inflammation in the absence of draining lymph nodes
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The objective of this study was to investigate the contribution of secondary lymphoid organs in the generation and maintenance of experimental allergic airway inflammation. We employed a previously reported murine model of respiratory mucosal allergic sensitization, induced by repeated aerosolizations of ovalbumin in the context of a GM-CSF airway environment. We executed this protocol in wild-type (WT) and lymphotoxin-alpha-deficient mice (LTalpha-KO) mice, which are devoid of lymph nodes (LNs) and possess rudimentary spleen structures. Despite the lack of pulmonary LNs draining the airway compartment, LTalpha-KO mice were fully capable of mounting a robust inflammatory response in the airways, consisting of Th2 polarized CD4+ T cells and eosinophils. This was accompanied by IL-5, IL-13, and IFN-gamma production by splenocytes and generation of ovalbumin-specific serum IgE. Exposure to the same antigen 7 weeks after complete resolution of airway inflammation once again induced a Th2 polarized infiltrate, demonstrating intact immunological memory. To investigate inherent plasticity in establishing antigen-specific immunity, mice were splenectomized before sensitization. Allergic sensitization was completely abrogated in splenectomized LTalpha-KO mice, compared with eusplenic LTalpha-KO controls. These data demonstrate that secondary lymphoid organs, either LN or spleen, are essential for the generation of allergic airway responses.
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