Recognition of pollen-derived phosphatidyl-ethanolamine by human CD1d-restricted γδ T cells

Anna M. Russano, Elisabetta Agea, Lanfranco Corazzi, Antyony D. Postle, Gennaro De Libero, Steven Porcelli, Fernando M. de Benedictis, Fabrizio Spinozzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Background: Evidences from mice and human beings indicate that γδ T cells could be relevant in recognition of stress-induced self and/or yet unidentified inhaled foreign antigens. Their specificity differs from classic MHC-restricted αβ T cells and involves the immunoglobulin-like structure of the γδ T-cell receptor with the recognition of small organic molecules, alkylamines, and self lipid compounds presented by CD1 + dendritic cells. Objective: Because CD1 receptors are mainly devoted to lipid antigen presentation, we sought to determine whether exogenous pollen membrane lipids may act as allergens for CD1-restricted γδ T cells. Methods: Peripheral blood and nasal mucosa-associated γδ T cells were cloned from normal controls and cypress-sensitive subjects and tested for their antigen specificity and CD1-restriction with phospholipids extracted from tree pollen grains, as well with other natural or synthetic compounds. Phospholipid reactivity of cloned γδ T cells was measured by mean of proliferative response and cytokine release as well as by testing their helper activity on IgE production in vitro and in vivo. Results: Cloned γδ T lymphocytes from subjects with allergy, but not normal controls, were found to recognize pollen-derived phosphatidyl-ethanolamine (PE) in a CD1d-restricted fashion. Only 16:0/18:2 and 18:2/18:2 PE were stimulatory, whereas no response was recorded for disaturated PE, phosphatidylcholine, neutral lipids, or protein extract. Proliferating clones secreted both T H1-type and T H2-type cytokines and drove IgE production in vitro and in vivo. Conclusion: CD1d-restricted γδ T cells specific for phospholipids can represent a key mucosal regulatory subset for the control of early host reactivity against tree pollens. Clinical implications: By knowing how lipid allergen constituents interact with mucosal immune system, we can expand our possibilities in diagnostic and therapeutic interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1178-1184
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2006


  • CD1-restriction
  • Cypress pollen
  • IL-4, skin prick tests
  • T-cell clones
  • cytokines
  • nasal mucosa
  • olive pollen
  • phosphatidyl-ethanolamine
  • phospholipids
  • rhinitis
  • specific IgE
  • γδ T lymphocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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