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J Immunol. 2013 May 1;190(9):4848-60. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1200870. Epub 2013 Mar 27.

Tolerogenic Donor-Derived Dendritic Cells Risk Sensitization In Vivo owing to Processing and Presentation by Recipient APCs.

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Medical Research Council Centre for Transplantation, King's College London, Guy's Hospital, London SE1 9RT, United Kingdom.


Modification of allogeneic dendritic cells (DCs) through drug treatment results in DCs with in vitro hallmarks of tolerogenicity. Despite these observations, using murine MHC-mismatched skin and heart transplant models, donor-derived drug-modified DCs not only failed to induce tolerance but also accelerated graft rejection. The latter was inhibited by injecting the recipient with anti-CD8 Ab, which removed both CD8(+) T cells and CD8(+) DCs. The discrepancy between in vitro and in vivo data could be explained, partly, by the presentation of drug-modified donor DC MHC alloantigens by recipient APCs and activation of recipient T cells with indirect allospecificity, leading to the induction of alloantibodies. Furthermore, allogeneic MHC molecules expressed by drug-treated DCs were rapidly processed and presented in peptide form by recipient APCs in vivo within hours of DC injection. Using TCR-transgenic T cells, Ag presentation of injected OVA-pulsed DCs was detectable for ≤ 3 d, whereas indirect presentation of MHC alloantigen by recipient APCs led to activation of T cells within 14 h and was partially inhibited by reducing the numbers of CD8(+) DCs in vivo. In support of this observation when mice lacking CD8(+) DCs were pretreated with drug-modified DCs prior to transplantation, skin graft rejection kinetics were similar to those in non-DC-treated controls. Of interest, when the same mice were treated with anti-CD40L blockade plus drug-modified DCs, skin graft survival was prolonged, suggesting endogenous DCs were responsible for T cell priming. Altogether, these findings highlight the risks and limitations of negative vaccination using alloantigen-bearing "tolerogenic" DCs.

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