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Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 1994 Dec;11(6):682-91.

Regulation of the immunostimulatory activity of rat pulmonary interstitial dendritic cells by cell-cell interactions and cytokines.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109-0360.


Pulmonary dendritic cells (DC) are potent antigen-presenting cells that are thought to play a critical role in the initiation of immune responses within the lung. Because the lung is both a site of entry into the body for microbial pathogens and the organ of gas exchange, pulmonary immune responses must be meticulously regulated to achieve a balance between host defense and respiration. The initial interaction of DC with T cells in the lung is an excellent point at which to control local immune responses. Studies of the regulation of DC accessory cell function have been greatly hampered by difficulties in obtaining pure populations of pulmonary DC that have not been subjected to prolonged incubations during which the DC may undergo functional alteration. We now describe a method for isolating pulmonary DC from the rat that yields 1 x 10(5) cells/rat with > 90% purity. These cells are potent accessory cells, inducing T cell proliferation in a mixed leukocyte reaction (MLR) at a stimulator-to-responder ratio of 1:1,000. This method, which involves flow cytometric separation of nonphagocytic cells that stain brightly for class II MHC (OX6) from a population of low-density pulmonary interstitial cells, avoids extended incubations at 37 degrees C and thus allows study of a relatively pure population of cells that have functional capacities resembling those of naive cells from the normal lung. With these cells, we demonstrate that the functional capacity of pulmonary DC as stimulator cells in an MLR is significantly increased by exposure to the cytokines interleukin-1 or granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and by culture with interstitial, but not alveolar, macrophages. Furthermore, DC are heterogeneous with respect to the cell surface expression of receptor for GM-CSF, and this expression is subject to modulation in cell culture. From these studies, we conclude that the immunostimulatory capacity of pulmonary DC is a function of local interactions with cytokines and other parenchymal cells. This suggests that DC function may be an important regulatory point for the local control of pulmonary immune responses.

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