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J Immunol. 2002 Jun 15;168(12):6199-207.

A novel role for IL-3: human monocytes cultured in the presence of IL-3 and IL-4 differentiate into dendritic cells that produce less IL-12 and shift Th cell responses toward a Th2 cytokine pattern.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology and Internal Medicine, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria. susanne.ebner@uibk.ac.at


Dendritic cells (DC) derived from plasmacytoid precursors depend on IL-3 for survival and proliferation in culture, and they induce preferentially Th2 responses. Monocytes express not only GM-CSF receptors, but also IL-3Rs. Therefore, we examined whether IL-3 had an effect on the functional plasticity of human monocyte-derived DC generated in a cell culture system that is widely used in immunotherapy. DC were generated with IL-3 (instead of GM-CSF) and IL-4. Yields, maturation, phenotype (surface markers and Toll-like receptors), morphology, and immunostimulatory capacity were similar. Only CD1a was differentially expressed, being absent on IL-3-treated DC. In response to CD40 ligation DC generated in the presence of IL-3 secreted significantly less IL-12 p70 and more IL-10 compared with DC grown with GM-CSF. Coculture of naive allogeneic CD4(+) T cells with DC generated in the presence of IL-3 induced T cells to produce significantly more IL-5 and IL-4 and less IFN-gamma compared with stimulation with DC generated with GM-CSF. These data extend the evidence that different cytokine environments during differentiation of monocyte-derived DC can modify their Th cell-inducing properties. A hitherto unrecognized effect of IL-3 on DC was defined, namely suppression of IL-12 secretion and a resulting shift from Th1 toward Th2.

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