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, 13 (2), 186-99

Cytokines in the Generation and Maturation of Dendritic Cells: Recent Advances

  • PMID: 12101074

Cytokines in the Generation and Maturation of Dendritic Cells: Recent Advances

Gang M Zou et al. Eur Cytokine Netw.


Dendritic cells (DCs) are extremely efficient antigen presenting cells (APCs) that are potent stimulators of both T and B cell-mediated immune responses. Although DCs are normally present in very small numbers in the peripheral blood (PB), recent advances have made it possible to generate relatively large numbers of cells in culture. DCs can be differentiated in vitro from various cellular sources, including bone marrow (BM), cord blood (CB) and PB mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Although a wide variety of conditions have been reported to be able to support DC generation, the majority of research and clinical protocols to date differentiate DCs from precursors using granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) in combination with either tumor necrosis factor-(TNF-)alpha or interleukin (IL)-4. However, a diverse array of cytokines has been shown to be able to induce DC differentiation under a variety of conditions. According to recent reports, cytokines such as IL-2, IL-6, IL-7, IL-13, IL-15 and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), in combination or even, in some cases, alone, can contribute to the generation of DCs from either monocytes or CD34+ cells. Although the majority of cytokine combinations include GM-CSF, some do not. For example, Flt3 ligand (FL), in conjuction with IL-6 (in the absence of GM-CSF), has been reported to be able to induce DC differentiation from BM cells in a murine system. Other agents can play a dual role in DC activity. CD40 ligand (CD40L), as a single agent, has been shown to be able to generate DCs from PB monocytes, while numerous other reports have also demonstrated its role as a potent maturation factor. In contrast, for other cytokines such as IL-16 or IL-17, although there is no data for a role in DC generation, they have been reported to be involved in promoting DC maturation in vitro as defined by upregulation of costimulatory molecules, major histocompatibility complex (MHC) antigens and antigen presenting/T lymphocyte stimulatory capacity. Furthermore, cytokines such as stem cell factor (SCF) and FL have been shown to dramatically enhance in vivo DC recovery. The wide variety of cytokines and conditions that have been shown to be able to influence DC differentiation and activity to amply demonstrate the extreme heterogeneity found in the DC population, something that is reflected in the diverse phenotypes, functions and ontogeny displayed by DCs. This diversity may account for the large number of roles that have been attributed to DCs in the development and function of the immune system and, in turn, emphasizes the potential as well as the challenges of modifying specific aspects of the immune response system by manipulating specific DC subpopulations.

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