Objective: To verify whether opsonization of apoptotic cells skews the outcome of apoptotic cell antigen presentation by dendritic cells (DCs).
Methods: RMA cells, which were engineered with a mutant ovalbumin (OVA) protein and were devoid of the leader secretory sequence (OVA-RMA), underwent ultraviolet irradiation to induce apoptosis. Binding of anti-beta2-glycoprotein I antibodies (anti-beta2GPI) and phagocytosis of apoptotic cells were assessed by flow cytometry and confocal microscopy. Presentation of processing antigens and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II-restricted or MHC class I-restricted antigens was assessed using OVA-specific T cell hybridomas.
Results: Anti-beta2GPI facilitated presentation of epitopes from internalized apoptotic cells to MHC class II-restricted, but not to class I-restricted, T lymphocytes. DCs challenged with supernatants of apoptotic cells did not activate OVA-specific T cells, making it unlikely that anti-beta2GPI complexed with antigen released from dying cells plays a role in antigen presentation. DCs challenged with low numbers of anti-beta2GPI-opsonized apoptotic cells secreted interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta), tumor necrosis factor alpha, and IL-10 in an autocrine/paracrine manner.
Conclusion: Opsonization influences the outcome of the disposal of low numbers of apoptotic cells by DCs. This implies that soluble factors bound to apoptotic cells modulate their immunogenicity.