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Journal of Allergy
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 176468, 10 pages
Review Article

Lung Dendritic Cell Developmental Programming, Environmental Stimuli, and Asthma in Early Periods of Life

1Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK 73117, USA
2Department of Pediatrics, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK 73104, USA
3Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA

Received 1 June 2012; Revised 29 September 2012; Accepted 30 September 2012

Academic Editor: Hamida Hammad

Copyright © 2012 Shanjana Awasthi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Dendritic cells (DCs) are important cells of our innate immune system. Their role is critical in inducing adaptive immunity, tolerance, or allergic response in peripheral organs—lung and skin. The lung DCs are not developed prenatally before birth. The DCs develop after birth presumably during the first year of life; exposures to any foreign antigen or infectious organisms during this period can significantly affect DC developmental programming and generation of distinct DC phenotypes and functions. These changes can have both short-term and long-term health effects which may be very relevant in childhood asthma and predisposition for a persistent response in adulthood. An understanding of DC development at molecular and cellular levels can help in protecting neonates and infants against problematic environmental exposures and developmental immunotoxicity. This knowledge can eventually help in designing novel pharmacological modulators to skew the DC characteristics and immune responses to benefit the host across a lifetime.