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J Immunol. 2009 Jun 1;182(11):6815-23. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0802008.

CD2 distinguishes two subsets of human plasmacytoid dendritic cells with distinct phenotype and functions.

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  • 1Baylor-National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Cooperative Center for Translational Research on Human Immunology and Biodefense, Dallas, TX 75204, USA.


Plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) are key regulators of antiviral immunity. They rapidly secrete IFN-alpha and cross-present viral Ags, thereby launching adaptive immunity. In this study, we show that activated human pDCs inhibit replication of cancer cells and kill them in a contact-dependent fashion. Expression of CD2 distinguishes two pDC subsets with distinct phenotype and function. Both subsets secrete IFN-alpha and express granzyme B and TRAIL. CD2(high) pDCs uniquely express lysozyme and can be found in tonsils and in tumors. Both subsets launch recall T cell responses. However, CD2(high) pDCs secrete higher levels of IL12p40, express higher levels of costimulatory molecule CD80, and are more efficient in triggering proliferation of naive allogeneic T cells. Thus, human blood pDCs are composed of subsets with specific phenotype and functions.

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