Immature, semi-mature and fully mature dendritic cells: which signals induce tolerance or immunity?

Trends Immunol. 2002 Sep;23(9):445-9. doi: 10.1016/s1471-4906(02)02281-0.


Dendritic cells (DCs) are currently divided into tolerogenic immature and immunogenic mature differentiation stages. However, recent findings challenge this model by reporting mature DCs as inducers of regulatory CD4+ T cells in vivo. This implies that decisive tolerogenic and immunogenic maturation signals for DCs might exist. Closer inspection reveals that tolerance is observed when partial- or semi-maturation of DCs occurs, whereas only full DC maturation is immunogenic. The decisive immunogenic signal seems to be the release of proinflammatory cytokines from the DCs. Moreover, the semi-mature DC phenotype is comparable to steady-state migratory veiled DCs within the lymphatics, which seem to continuously tolerize lymph node T cells against tissue-derived self-antigens or apoptotic cells.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Cell Differentiation* / drug effects
  • Cell Movement
  • Dendritic Cells / cytology*
  • Dendritic Cells / drug effects
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Endocytosis
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance*
  • Mice
  • Monocytes / cytology
  • Monocytes / drug effects
  • Monocytes / immunology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / immunology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology


  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha