LXR signaling controls homeostatic dendritic cell maturation

Sci Immunol. 2023 May 12;8(83):eadd3955. doi: 10.1126/sciimmunol.add3955. Epub 2023 May 12.


Dendritic cells (DCs) mature in an immunogenic or tolerogenic manner depending on the context in which an antigen is perceived, preserving the balance between immunity and tolerance. Whereas the pathways driving immunogenic maturation in response to infectious insults are well-characterized, the signals that drive tolerogenic maturation during homeostasis are still poorly understood. We found that the engulfment of apoptotic cells triggered homeostatic maturation of type 1 conventional DCs (cDC1s) within the spleen. This maturation process could be mimicked by engulfment of empty, nonadjuvanted lipid nanoparticles (LNPs), was marked by intracellular accumulation of cholesterol, and was highly specific to cDC1s. Engulfment of either apoptotic cells or cholesterol-rich LNPs led to the activation of the liver X receptor (LXR) pathway, which promotes the efflux of cellular cholesterol, and repressed genes associated with immunogenic maturation. In contrast, simultaneous engagement of TLR3 to mimic viral infection via administration of poly(I:C)-adjuvanted LNPs repressed the LXR pathway, thus delaying cellular cholesterol efflux and inducing genes that promote T cell-mediated immunity. These data demonstrate that conserved cellular cholesterol efflux pathways are differentially regulated in tolerogenic versus immunogenic cDC1s and suggest that administration of nonadjuvanted cholesterol-rich LNPs may be an approach for inducing tolerogenic DC maturation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cholesterol
  • Dendritic Cells*
  • Homeostasis
  • Liver X Receptors / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction* / genetics


  • Liver X Receptors
  • Cholesterol