Dendritic cells are the most potent antigen-presenting cells (APC) and the most effective stimulators of primary T cell responses. Based on the strong influence of the APC on the immune response, we investigated cellular uptake of a biodegradable antigen delivery system, poly(D,L-lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) microspheres, at two sites of injection: intraperitoneal and intradermal. We hypothesized that a fluorescent probe, tetramethylrhodamine labeled dextran, loaded in PLGA microspheres would be taken up by APCs and thereby provide a means for studying cellular uptake of PLGA microspheres in vivo. Phagocytic load and cell phenotype were determined using flow cytometry and confocal laser scanning microscopy. The results revealed cellular uptake of tetramethylrhodamine dextran loaded PLGA microspheres at both injection sites. After intraperitoneal immunization, the predominant cell phagocytosing PLGA microspheres in the peritoneal cavity was the macrophage whereas the intradermal immunization resulted in uptake of PLGA microspheres by dendritic cells. Hence, these results suggest that the profile for cellular uptake varies with the site of injection. More importantly, this study provides direct and conclusive evidence of uptake of PLGA microspheres by the most potent APC, the dendritic cell.
Copyright 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.