Identification and characterization of human pulmonary dendritic cells

Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2005 Mar;32(3):177-84. doi: 10.1165/rcmb.2004-0279OC. Epub 2004 Dec 2.


Dendritic cells (DC) are specialized antigen-presenting cells, linking innate and adaptive immune responses, and thus play an important role in immunologically mediated diseases, including pulmonary diseases such as asthma and respiratory viral infections. Although much is known about the characteristics of lung DC in animal models, very few data concerning human lung DC are available. The goal of our study was to identify and characterize dendritic cells in human lung by preparing single-cell suspensions from surgical resection specimens and subsequent labeling with the recently developed blood dendritic cell antigen (BDCA) markers. A straightforward isolation procedure was developed to avoid phenotypical and functional changes induced by extensive purification methods. In this way, human lung DC were directly identified without the need for an additional adherence step for further purification. For the first time, we demonstrate the presence of three previously unidentified DC subsets in human lung digests: myeloid DC type 1 (BDCA1+/HLA-DR+), myeloid DC type 2 (BDCA3+/HLA-DR+), and plasmacytoid DC (BDCA2+/CD123+). The presence of CD1a+ DC in the human lung was confirmed. The identification and characterization of different human pulmonary DC subtypes is of great importance for the future development of DC-based immunotherapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD1 / immunology
  • Biomarkers
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / physiology*
  • Glycoproteins / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lung / cytology*
  • Lung / immunology
  • Lung / physiology
  • Macrophages / physiology


  • Antigens, CD1
  • Biomarkers
  • CD1C protein, human
  • CD1a antigen
  • Glycoproteins