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J Immunol. 2002 Jan 15;168(2):926-32.

Monophosphoryl lipid A activates both human dendritic cells and T cells.

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  • 1Laboratory of Experimental Immunology, Faculté de Medecine, Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium.


The induction of dendritic cell (DC) maturation is critical for the induction of Ag-specific T lymphocyte responses and may be essential for the development of human vaccines relying on T cell immunity. In this study, we have investigated the effects of monophosphoryl lipid A (MPL) on human monocyte-derived DC as well as peripheral blood T cells. Calcium mobilization, mitogen-activated protein kinase activation, and the NF-kappaB transcription factor were induced after MPL stimulation of DC and required high doses of MPL (100 microg/ml). Maturation parameters such as production of IL-12 and increases in cell surface expression of HLA-DR, CD80, CD86, CD40, and CD83 were observed following DC treatment with MPL. However, lower levels of IL-12 were induced by MPL when compared with lipopolysaccharide. This is likely to be related to differences in the kinetics of extracellular signal-related kinase 1/2 and p-38 phosphorylation induced by both molecules. Although maturation induced by MPL was weaker when compared with lipopolysaccharide, it appeared to be sufficient to support optimal activation of allogeneic naive CD45RA(+) T cell and anti-tetanus toxoid CD4 T cells. MPL at low doses (5 microg/ml) had no impact on DC maturation, while its addition to DC-T cell cocultures induced full T cell activation. The observed effect was related to the fact that MPL also acts directly on T cells, likely through their Toll-like receptors, by increasing their intracellular calcium and up-regulating their CD40 ligand expression. Together, these data support a model where MPL enhances T cell responses by having an impact on DC and T cells.

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