There is controversy about the immunomodulatory effect of fibroblasts on dendritic cells (DCs). To clarify this issue, in this study, we have evaluated different features of fibroblast-primed DCs including their ability to express co-inhibitory and co-stimulatory molecules, pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines and their ability to induce T-cell proliferation. We also examined migratory capacity of DCs to lymphatic tissues and present fibroblast-derived antigens after encountering fibroblasts. The results of our in vitro study showed that both co-inhibitory (programmed death ligand 1 and ligand 2 and B7H4) and co-stimulatory (CD86) molecules were up-regulated when DCs were co-cultured with fibroblasts. In an animal model, we showed that intra- peritoneal injection (IP) of both syngeneic and allogeneic fibroblasts significantly increased both total DC count and expression level of co-inhibitory and co-stimulatory molecules on DCs. Priming of DCs with syngeneic and allogeneic fibroblasts reduced the proliferation of CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells. Even activation of fibroblast- primed DCs failed to restore their ability to induce T-cell proliferation. Likewise, priming of DCs with fibroblasts blocked the ability of ovalbumin-pulsed DCs to induce proliferation of ovalbumin-specific CD4(+) T cells. Compared with non-activated DCs, fibroblast-primed DCs had significantly higher expression levels of interleukin-10 and indoleamine 2, 3 dioxygenase. Fibroblast-primed DCs had a significantly reduced interleukin-12 expression level compared with that of activated DCs. After priming with fibroblasts, DCs were able to migrate to lymphatic tissues and present fibroblast-derived antigens (ovalbumin). In conclusion, after priming with fibroblasts, DCs gain tolerogenic features. This finding suggests the potential role of fibroblasts in the maintenance of immune tolerance.
Keywords: Dermal fibroblasts; dendritic cells; tolerogenic effect.
© 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.