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Blood. 2012 Nov 8;120(19):3936-44. doi: 10.1182/blood-2012-06-435941. Epub 2012 Sep 10.

Human plasmacytoid dendritic cells are equipped with antigen-presenting and tumoricidal capacities.

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Department of Tumor Immunology, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre and Nijmegen Centre for Molecular Life Sciences, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Human plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) represent a highly specialized naturally occurring dendritic-cell subset and are the main producers of type I interferons (IFNs) in response to viral infections. We show that human pDCs activated by the preventive vaccine FSME specifically up-regulate CD56 on their surface, a marker that was thought to be specific for NK cells and associated with cytolytic effector functions. We observed that FSME-activated pDCs specifically lysed NK target cells and expressed cytotoxic molecules, such as tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) and granzyme B. Elevated levels of these molecules coincided with the expression of CD56, indicative for skewing human pDCs toward an interferon-producing killer DC subset. Detailed phenotypical and functional analysis revealed that pDCs attained a mature phenotype, secreted proinflammatory cytokines, and had the capacity to present antigens and stimulate T cells. Here, we report on the generation of CD56(+) human interferon producing killer pDCs with the capacity to present antigens. These findings aid in deciphering the role for pDCs in antitumor immunity and present a promising prospect of developing antitumor therapy using pDCs.

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