Dendritic cells (DCs), including Langerhans cells (LCs), play a critical role in the induction phase of allergic contact hypersensitivity. Following exposure to chemical allergens in the skin, LCs undergo a maturation process leading to the up-regulation of expression of co-stimulatory molecules, such as CD86, CD54 and CD40. Our previous study revealed that chemical allergens induce phenotype alterations (e.g., CD86, CD54 and CD40) and cytokine production (TNF-α and IL-8) in THP-1 cells that possibly reflect the maturation of dendritic cells during skin sensitization. However, the physiological signals for phenotypic alterations by chemical allergens are still not fully understood. Therefore, in this study, we investigated the effect of TNF-α and extracellular ATP on THP-1 cell activation induced by chemical allergens. Kinetic studies revealed that TNF-α and IL-8 release occurred in a time-dependent manner with release of two cytokines beginning at 3 hr post-exposure to well-known haptens, DNCB and NiSO4. While recombinant human TNF-α augmented CD54 and CD40 expression in a dose-dependent manner, rhTNF-α did not increase CD86 expression. Furthermore, neutralization of TNF-α activity strongly inhibited CD54 and CD40 expression induced by allergens. On the contrary, extracellular ATP induced the up-regulation of both CD86 and CD54 expression. In the presence of the P2 receptor antagonist suramin, the up-regulation of CD86 and CD54 expression by allergens was in part suppressed. Therefore, we postulate that not only TNF-α but also extracellular ATP may contribute to cell activation following allergen stimulation, which might reflect the mechanism by which DCs respond to allergens.
2008 The Japanese Society of Toxicology