We have tested the hypothesis that exposure to ultraviolet light would inhibit T helper-1 (Th1) responses and stimulate T helper-2 (Th2) responses, and that thus in a mouse model of allergic (i.e. extrinsic) asthma (using ovalbumin [OVA] as the allergen) increased symptoms would be observed, while in a model of Th1-dependent occupational asthma (in which picryl chloride is the allergen) decreased symptoms would be observed. Whereas reduced interferon (IFN)-γ production, decreased inflammatory responses in the airways, and reduced airway reactivity to nonspecific stimuli were observed in UV-preexposed picryl chloride sensitized and challenged mice, the results in the OVA model were less clear. Increased interleukin (IL)-10 production as a result of UV exposure was observed, together with unchanged IL-4 and IFN-γ. In addition, decreased OVA-specific immunoglobin, IgG1 and IgE, titers were noted, as well as decreased nonspecific airway hyperreactivity. Eosinophilic inflammatory responses were not influenced. The results indicate that UV exposure can have systemic effects that influence ongoing immune responses in the respiratory tract. The effects are not only restricted to immune responses that are predominantly Th1 dependent (i.e. pulmonary delayed-type hypersensitivity and IFN-γ production in response to picryl chloride) but also to immune response that are predominantly Th2 dependent, i.e. decreased specific IgE titers.
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Vol. 72 • No. 2