Dexamethasone transforms lipopolysaccharide-stimulated human blood myeloid dendritic cells into myeloid dendritic cells that prime interleukin-10 production in T cells

Immunology. 2008 Sep;125(1):91-100. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2567.2008.02824.x. Epub 2008 Feb 27.


Myeloid dendritic cells (MDC) play an important role in antigen-specific immunity and tolerance. In transplantation setting donor-derived MDC are a promising tool to realize donor-specific tolerance. Current protocols enable generation of tolerogenic donor MDC from human monocytes during 1-week cultures. However, for clinical application in transplantation medicine, a rapidly available source of tolerogenic MDC is desired. In this study we investigated whether primary human blood MDC could be transformed into tolerogenic MDC using dexamethasone (dex) and lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Human blood MDC were cultured with dex and subsequently matured with LPS in the presence or absence of dex. Activation of MDC with LPS after pretreatment with dex did not prevent maturation into immunostimulatory MDC. In contrast, simultaneous treatment with dex and LPS yielded tolerogenic MDC, that had a reduced expression of CD86 and CD83, that poorly stimulated allogeneic T-cell proliferation and production of T helper 1 (Th1) cytokines, and primed production of the immunoregulatory cytokine interleukin-10 (IL-10) in T cells. In vitro, however, these tolerogenic MDC did not induce permanent donor-specific hyporesponsiveness in T cells. Importantly, tolerogenic MDC obtained by LPS stimulation in the presence of dex did not convert into immunostimulatory MDC after subsequent activation with different maturation stimuli. In conclusion, these findings demonstrate that combined treatment with dex and LPS transforms primary human blood MDC into tolerogenic MDC that are impaired to stimulate Th1 cytokines, but strongly prime the production of the immunoregulatory cytokine IL-10 in T cells, and are resistant to maturation stimuli. This strategy enables rapid generation of tolerogenic donor-derived MDC for immunotherapy in clinical transplantation.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Dendritic Cells / cytology
  • Dendritic Cells / drug effects*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Dexamethasone / pharmacology*
  • Glucocorticoids / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Interleukin-10 / biosynthesis*
  • Lipopolysaccharides / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Th1 Cells / drug effects
  • Th1 Cells / immunology


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Cytokines
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Interleukin-10
  • Dexamethasone