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J Immunol. 2010 Nov 15;185(10):5915-25. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1001233. Epub 2010 Oct 13.

Generation of mucosal dendritic cells from bone marrow reveals a critical role of retinoic acid.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA.


It is unknown how dendritic cells (DCs) become specialized as mucosal DCs and maintain intestinal homeostasis. We report that a subset of bone marrow cells freshly isolated from C57BL/6 mice express the retinoic acid (RA)-synthesizing enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase family 1, subfamily A2 (ALDH1a2) and are capable of providing RA to DC precursors in the bone marrow microenvironment. RA induced bone marrow-derived DCs to express CCR9 and ALDH1a2 and conferred upon them mucosal DC functions, including induction of Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells, IgA-secreting B cells, and gut-homing molecules. This response of DCs to RA was dependent on a narrow time window and stringent dose effect. RA promoted bone marrow-derived DC production of bioactive TGF-β by inhibiting suppressor of cytokine signaling 3 expression and thereby enhancing STAT3 activation. These RA effects were evident in vivo, in that mucosal DCs from vitamin A-deficient mice had reduced mucosal DC function, namely failure to induce Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells. Furthermore, MyD88 signaling enhanced RA-educated DC ALDH1a2 expression and was required for optimal TGF-β production. These data indicate that RA plays a critical role in the generation of mucosal DCs from bone marrow and in their functional activity.

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