Immunoregulation of Allergic Contact Dermatitis

Giampiero Girolomoni, Paolo Gisondi, Chiara Ottaviani, Andrea Cavani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) to haptens can serve as a valuable paradigm for understanding the physiopathology of T cell mediated immune responses. In sensitized individuals, exposure to the relevant hapten initiates clinical expression of ACD, which depends on the rapid activation of specific T cells. Mechanisms of tissue damage include direct cytotoxicity against keratinocytes, mostly mediated by CD8+ T cells, and T cell release of cytokines, which amplify the inflammatory response by targeting resident skin cells. The expression of ACD is actively regulated by specialized subsets of T lymphocytes with suppressive functions. In particular, T regulatory cells producing high levels of IL-10 suppress ACD by blocking the functions of dendritic cells. In contrast CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells prevent immunopathological reactions and maintain peripheral tolerance to haptens by acting via a cell-to-cell contact mechanism. Understanding the role of suppressor T cells and the requirements for their in vivo and in vitro expansion are critical steps for the development of specific desensitization protocols in hapten-allergic individuals. This information may also provide the basis for novel interventions in other immune-mediated diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-270
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Dermatology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2004


  • Allergic contact dermatitis
  • CD4 CD25 T cells
  • Interleukin 10
  • Regulatory T cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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