Tolerogenic dendritic cells (DCs) are a promising tool to control T cell-mediated autoimmunity. Here, we evaluate the ability of dexamethasone-modulated and monophosphoryl lipid A (MPLA)-activated DCs [MPLA-tolerogenic DCs (tDCs)] to exert immunomodulatory effects on naive and memory CD4+ T cells in an antigen-specific manner. For this purpose, MPLA-tDCs were loaded with purified protein derivative (PPD) as antigen and co-cultured with autologous naive or memory CD4+ T cells. Lymphocytes were re-challenged with autologous PPD-pulsed mature DCs (mDCs), evaluating proliferation and cytokine production by flow cytometry. On primed-naive CD4+ T cells, the expression of regulatory T cell markers was evaluated and their suppressive ability was assessed in autologous co-cultures with CD4+ effector T cells and PPD-pulsed mDCs. We detected that memory CD4+ T cells primed by MPLA-tDCs presented reduced proliferation and proinflammatory cytokine expression in response to PPD and were refractory to subsequent stimulation. Naive CD4+ T cells were instructed by MPLA-tDCs to be hyporesponsive to antigen-specific restimulation and to suppress the induction of T helper cell type 1 and 17 responses. In conclusion, MPLA-tDCs are able to modulate antigen-specific responses of both naive and memory CD4+ T cells and might be a promising strategy to "turn off" self-reactive CD4+ effector T cells in autoimmunity.
Keywords: hyporesponsiveness; immunotherapy; memory CD4+ T cells; monocyte-derived dendritic cells; naive CD4+ T cells; tolerance.