CD2 distinguishes two subsets of human plasmacytoid dendritic cells with distinct phenotype and functions

J Immunol. 2009 Jun 1;182(11):6815-23. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0802008.


Plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) are key regulators of antiviral immunity. They rapidly secrete IFN-alpha and cross-present viral Ags, thereby launching adaptive immunity. In this study, we show that activated human pDCs inhibit replication of cancer cells and kill them in a contact-dependent fashion. Expression of CD2 distinguishes two pDC subsets with distinct phenotype and function. Both subsets secrete IFN-alpha and express granzyme B and TRAIL. CD2(high) pDCs uniquely express lysozyme and can be found in tonsils and in tumors. Both subsets launch recall T cell responses. However, CD2(high) pDCs secrete higher levels of IL12p40, express higher levels of costimulatory molecule CD80, and are more efficient in triggering proliferation of naive allogeneic T cells. Thus, human blood pDCs are composed of subsets with specific phenotype and functions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • B7-1 Antigen / analysis
  • CD2 Antigens*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic
  • Dendritic Cells / cytology*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-12 Subunit p40 / analysis
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Phenotype
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • B7-1 Antigen
  • CD2 Antigens
  • IL12B protein, human
  • Interleukin-12 Subunit p40