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J Immunol. 1998 Sep 15;161(6):3042-9.

Activation of cutaneous dendritic cells by CpG-containing oligodeoxynucleotides: a role for dendritic cells in the augmentation of Th1 responses by immunostimulatory DNA.

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Dermatology Branch, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892-1908, USA.


Genetic vaccination depends at least in part on the adjuvant properties of plasmids, properties that have been ascribed to unmethylated CpG dinucleotides in bacterial DNA. Because dendritic cells (DC) participate in the T cell priming that occurs during genetic vaccination, we reasoned that CpG-containing DNA might activate DC. Thus, we assessed the effects of CpG oligodeoxynucleotides (CpG ODN) on Langerhans cell (LC)-like murine fetal skin-derived DC (FSDDC) in vitro and on LC in vivo. Treatment with CpG ODN as well as LPS induced FSDDC maturation, manifested by decreased E-cadherin-mediated adhesion, up-regulation of MHC class II and costimulator molecule expression, and acquisition of enhanced accessory cell activity. In contrast to LPS, CpG ODN stimulated FSDDC to produce large amounts of IL-12 but only small amounts of IL-6 and TNF-alpha. Injection of CpG ODN into murine dermis also led to enhanced expression of MHC class II and CD86 Ag by LC in overlying epidermis and intracytoplasmic IL-12 accumulation in a subpopulation of activated LC. We conclude that immunostimulatory CpG ODN stimulate DC in vitro and in vivo. Bacterial DNA-based vaccines may preferentially elicit Th1-predominant immune responses because they activate and mobilize DC and induce them to produce large amounts of IL-12.

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