Dendritic cells (DCs) are adept at cross-presentation and initiation of antigen-specific immunity. Clinically, however, DCs produced by in vitro differentiation of monocytes in the presence of exogenous cytokines have been met with limited success. We hypothesized that DCs produced in a physiological manner may be more effective and found that platelets activate a cross-presentation program in peripheral blood monocytes with rapid (18 hours) maturation into physiological DCs (phDCs). Differentiation of monocytes into phDCs was concomitant with the formation of an "adhesion synapse," a biophysical junction enriched with platelet P-selectin and monocyte P-selectin glycoprotein ligand 1, followed by intracellular calcium fluxing and nuclear localization of nuclear factor κB. phDCs were more efficient than cytokine-derived DCs in generating tumor-specific T cell immunity. Our findings demonstrate that platelets mediate a cytokine-independent, physiologic maturation of DC and suggest a novel strategy for DC-based immunotherapies.
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