Objectives: Plasmacytoid dendritic cells (PDC) play an important role in the innate immune response to viral infections through the secretion of high levels of IFNalpha. We investigated whether PDC play a role in Human Papillomavirus (HPV) associated cervical carcinoma.
Methods: Frozen sections of 18 cervical carcinomas were analyzed for the presence of myeloid and plasmacytoid DC. To study whether the HPV virus can activate PDC, expression of putative VLP receptors (CD49f and CD16) was analyzed on PDC in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of healthy donors. Furthermore, CD83 induction and IFNalpha production by purified blood-derived PDC was measured after incubation with HPV 16 virus like particles (VLP).
Results: PDC were detected in 83% of the CxCa cases, primarily in the stroma. PDC express one of the putative VLP receptors (CD49f). IFNalpha production but no CD83 expression was induced in PDC upon incubation with VLP.
Conclusion: Our data suggest that PDC, which are at hand locally in the cervix, play a role in the natural immune response against HPV and identify PDC as possible targets for VLP-based vaccines.