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Blood. 2001 Dec 15;98(13):3520-6.

Isolation and characterization of plasmacytoid dendritic cells from Flt3 ligand and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor-treated mice.

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Department of Dermatology, University of Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.


Interferon alpha/beta plays an important role in the first-line defense against viral infections and can modulate cytokine responses by T-helper cells. Type 1 interferons (IFNs) are clinically important in infectious diseases and in the treatment of leukemia and lymphomas. Many different cell types have the capacity to produce IFN-alpha after encounter with virus and bacteria. The major, natural type 1 IFN-producing cell in humans was recently described as the plasmacytoid T cell, or pDC2, and it can differentiate into dendritic cells (DCs) on culture. This study describes the murine natural IFN-alpha-producing cell, or pDC2, that shares morphologic features with its human counterpart but has some distinct phenotypical characteristics. Murine plasmacytoid DCs can be differentially isolated based on their expression of CD11c, B220 (CD45R), and Thy1.2 (CD90). They lack expression of myeloid (eg, CD11b) antigens and CD8 alpha, a marker used to isolate lymphoid DCs. Like human pDC2, murine plasmacytoid DCs exhibit their maximal type 1 IFN-producing capacity at a precursor stage; pDCs isolated from bone marrow responded to viral stimulation with higher IFN-alpha production than cells of the same phenotype isolated from spleen. Mobilization of mice with Flt3 ligand (Flt3L) or Flt3L and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor, hematopoietic factors that specifically enhance DC growth, resulted in strikingly increased numbers of pDC in bone marrow and spleen. The isolation of this novel murine DC subset may serve as a useful tool in the study of viral immunobiology and for the design of treatments for murine malignancies.

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