Tolerogenic Effect of Mouse Fibroblasts on Dendritic Cells

Immunology. 2016 May;148(1):22-33. doi: 10.1111/imm.12584. Epub 2016 Feb 8.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Cytokines / analysis
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts / physiology*
  • Immune Tolerance*
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL


  • Cytokines