Applicability of different cell line-derived dendritic cell-like cells in autophagy research

J Immunol Methods. 2021 Oct;497:113106. doi: 10.1016/j.jim.2021.113106. Epub 2021 Jul 26.


Background and aims: Immortalized cell lines have been long used as substitute for ex vivo murine and human material, but exhibit features that are not found in healthy tissue. True human dendritic cells (DC) cannot be cultured or passaged as opposed to immortalized cell lines. Research in the fields of immunogenic responses and immunotolerance in DCs has increased over the last decade. Autophagy has gained interest in these fields as well, and has been researched extensively in many other cell types as well. Here we have studied the applicability of cell line-derived dendritic cell-like cells of six myeloid cell lines aimed at research focussed on autophagy.

Methods: Six myeloid leukaemia cell lines were differentiated towards cell line-derived dendritic cell-like cells (cd-DC) using GM-CSF, IL-4, Ionomycine and PMA: HL60, KG1, MM6, MV-4-11, THP1 and U937. Autophagy was modulated using Rapamycin, Bafilomycin A1 and 3MA. Cell lines were genotyped for autophagy-related SNPs using RFLP. Marker expression was determined with FACS analysis and cytokine profiles were determined using Human Cytometric Bead Assay. Antigen uptake was assessed using Fluoresbrite microspheres.

Results and discussion: All researched cell lines harboured SNPs in the autophagy pathways. MM6 and THP1 derived cd-DCs resembled monocyte-derived DCs (moDC) most closely in marker expression, cytokine profiles and autophagy response. The HL60 and U937 cell lines proved least suitable for autophagy-related dendritic cell research.

Conclusion: The genetic background of cell lines should be taken into account upon studying (the effects of) autophagy in any cell line. Although none of the studied cell lines recapitulate the full spectrum of DC characteristics, MM6 and THP1 derived cd-DCs are most suitable for autophagy-related research in dendritic cells.

Keywords: Autophagy; Cell line; Dendritic cell; Methodology.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adenine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Adenine / pharmacology
  • Autophagy / drug effects*
  • Autophagy / genetics
  • Autophagy-Related Proteins / genetics
  • Autophagy-Related Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Dendritic Cells / drug effects*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism
  • Dendritic Cells / pathology
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Genotype
  • HL-60 Cells
  • Humans
  • Macrolides / pharmacology*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Monocytes / immunology*
  • Monocytes / metabolism
  • Monocytes / pathology
  • Phenotype
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Sirolimus / pharmacology*
  • THP-1 Cells
  • U937 Cells


  • Autophagy-Related Proteins
  • Cytokines
  • Macrolides
  • 3-methyladenine
  • bafilomycin A1
  • Adenine
  • Sirolimus