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Nat Immunol. 2002 Dec;3(12):1156-62. Epub 2002 Nov 11.

Indirect activation of naïve CD4+ T cells by dendritic cell-derived exosomes.

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  • 1INSERM U520, Institut Curie, 12 rue Lhomond, 75005 Paris, France.


Dendritic cells (DCs) secrete vesicles of endosomal origin, called exosomes, that bear major histocompatibility complex (MHC) and T cell costimulatory molecules. Here, we found that injection of antigen- or peptide-bearing exosomes induced antigen-specific naïve CD4+ T cell activation in vivo. In vitro, exosomes did not induce antigen-dependent T cell stimulation unless mature CD8alpha- DCs were also present in the cultures. These mature DCs could be MHC class II-negative, but had to bear CD80 and CD86. Therefore, in addition to carrying antigen, exosomes promote the exchange of functional peptide-MHC complexes between DCs. Such a mechanism may increase the number of DCs bearing a particular peptide, thus amplifying the initiation of primary adaptive immune responses.

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