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J Exp Med. 1999 Feb 1;189(3):593-8.

Antigen-pulsed CD8alpha+ dendritic cells generate an immune response after subcutaneous injection without homing to the draining lymph node.

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  • 1Centenary Institute of Cancer Medicine and Cell Biology, Newtown, New South Wales, Australia, 2042.


Two subsets of murine splenic dendritic cells, derived from distinct precursors, can be distinguished by surface expression of CD8alpha homodimers. The functions of the two subsets remain controversial, although it has been suggested that the lymphoid-derived (CD8alpha+) subset induces tolerance, whereas the myeloid-derived (CD8alpha-) subset has been shown to prime naive T cells and to generate memory responses. To study their capacity to prime or tolerize naive CD4(+) T cells in vivo, purified CD8alpha+ or CD8alpha- dendritic cells were injected subcutaneously into normal mice. In contrast to CD8alpha- dendritic cells, the CD8alpha+ fraction failed to traffic to the draining lymph node and did not generate responses to intravenous peptide. However, after in vitro pulsing with peptide, strong in vivo T cell responses to purified CD8alpha+ dendritic cells could be detected. Such responses may have been initiated via transfer of peptide-major histocompatibility complex complexes to migratory host CD8alpha- dendritic cells after injection. These data suggest that correlation of T helper cell type 1 (Th1) and Th2 priming with injection of CD8alpha+ and CD8alpha- dendritic cells, respectively, may not result from direct T cell activation by lymphoid versus myeloid dendritic cells, but rather from indirect modification of the response to immunogenic CD8alpha- dendritic cells by CD8alpha+ dendritic cells.

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