Gliadin fragments induce phenotypic and functional maturation of human dendritic cells.
Celiac disease is a chronic inflammatory disease developing in genetically predisposed individuals. Ingested gliadin, the triggering agent of the disease, can cross the epithelial barrier and elicit a harmful T cell-mediated immune response. Dendritic cells (DC) are supposed to play a pivotal role in shaping the immune response. The direction of the immune response toward immunity or tolerance depends on the stage of maturation and the functional properties of the DC. DC become fully functional APC upon maturation by various stimuli. We investigated the effect of a peptic digest of gliadin on the maturation of human monocyte-derived DC. Stimulation of cells with gliadin, in contrast with other tested food proteins, led to enhanced expression of maturation markers (CD80, CD83, CD86, and HLA-DR molecules) and increased secretion of chemokines and cytokines (mainly of IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, TNF-alpha, growth-related oncogene, MCP-1, MCP-2, macrophage-derived chemokine, and RANTES). Maturation was accompanied by a greater capacity to stimulate proliferation of allogeneic T cells and significantly reduced endocytic activity. Furthermore, gliadin-induced phosphorylation of members of three MAPK families (ERK1/2, JNK, and p38 MAPK) was demonstrated. The largest contribution of p38 MAPK was confirmed using its inhibitor SB203580, which markedly down-regulated the gliadin-triggered up-regulation of maturation markers and cytokine production. Gliadin treatment also resulted in increased NF-kappaB/DNA binding activity of p50 and p65 subunits. Taken together, gliadin peptides can contribute to overcoming the stage of unresponsiveness of immature DC by inducing phenotypic and functional DC maturation, resulting in more efficient processing and presentation of gliadin peptides to specific T lymphocytes.