Immunophenotypical and functional heterogeneity of dendritic cells generated from murine bone marrow cultured with different cytokine combinations: implications for anti-tumoral cell therapy

Immunology. 1999 Apr;96(4):569-77. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2567.1999.00728.x.


Dendritic cells (DC) are professional antigen-presenting cells that can be used as immune adjuvant for anti-tumoural therapies. This approach requires the generation of large quantities of DC that are fully characterized on the immunophenotypical and functional levels. In a murine model, we analysed the in vitro effects of granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) alone or combined with interleukin-4 (IL-4) or Flt3 ligand (Flt3-L) on the number, immunophenotype and functions of bone marrow-derived DC. In GM-CSF cultures, we have identified two populations based on their level of expression of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II molecules: MHC-IIhi cells, exhibiting the typical morphology and immunophenotype of myeloid DC (CD11c+ 33D1+ DEC-205+ F4/80+), and MHC-IIlo cells, heterogeneous for DC markers (30% CD11c+; 50% 33D1+; DEC-205-; F4/80+). The addition of Flt3-L to GM-CSF induced a twofold increase in MHC-IIhi DC number; besides, the MHC-IIlo cells lost all DC markers. In contrast, after addition of IL-4 to GM-CSF, the two populations displayed a very similar phenotype (CD11c+ 33D1- DEC-205+ F4/80-), differing only in their expression levels of MHC class II and costimulatory molecules, and showed similar stimulatory activity in mixed leucocyte reaction. We next analysed the migration of these cultured cells after fluorescent labelling. Twenty-four hours after injection into the footpads of mice, fluorescent cells were detected in the draining popliteal lymph nodes, with an enhanced migration when cells were cultured with GM-CSF+Flt3-L. Finally, we showed that MHC-IIhi were more efficient than MHC-IIlo cells in an anti-tumoral vaccination protocol. Altogether, our data highlight the importance of characterizing in vitro-generated DC before use in immunotherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow Cells / immunology*
  • Cancer Vaccines / therapeutic use*
  • Cell Differentiation / immunology
  • Cytokines / immunology*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Female
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / immunology
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / metabolism
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Interleukin-4 / immunology
  • Leukemia L1210 / prevention & control
  • Lymph Nodes / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Culture Test, Mixed
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred DBA
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Vaccination


  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Cytokines
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • Membrane Proteins
  • flt3 ligand protein
  • Interleukin-4
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor