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Immunobiology. 2000 Apr;201(5):568-82.

Dendritic cells lose ability to present protein antigen after stimulating antigen-specific T cell responses, despite upregulation of MHC class II expression.

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1. Medizinische Klinik und Poliklinik, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Germany.


Immature dendritic cells (DC) take up, process and present protein antigens; mature DC are specialized for stimulating primary T cell responses with increased expression of MHC class II and co-stimulatory molecules, but are incapable of processing and presenting soluble protein. The current study examined whether maturation of DC is triggered by T cell recognition of antigens presented by immature DC. Human DC derived from CD34+ progenitor cells by culture with granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) in serum-free medium could prime naive CD4+ T cells to keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) and ovalbumin (OVA). The cultured DC retained the ability to prime T cells to native protein for at least 15 days. To test for changes in DC function after participation in an immune response, DC were co-cultured with either allogeneic or autologous CD4+ T cells. DC co-cultured with autologous T cells retained the ability to prime T cells to intact protein antigens. By contrast, DC which had previously stimulated an allogeneic T cell response lost ability to prime T cells to soluble proteins. However, such <<T cell-activated DC>> induced a MLR and stimulated peptide-specific primary CD4+ T cell responses. This indicated that <<T cell-activated DC>> did not die or lose the ability to prime, but lost the ability to process and present subsequent antigens. Following participation in T cell activation, DC increased surface expression of MHC class II, co-stimulatory molecules CD40 and B7.2, and the intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1). In addition, our data suggest that interferon gamma (IFN-gamma) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) are involved in this T cell-mediated DC maturation.

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