Interferon-alpha and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor differentiate peripheral blood monocytes into potent antigen-presenting cells

J Leukoc Biol. 1998 Sep;64(3):358-67. doi: 10.1002/jlb.64.3.358.


The diverse roles of interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha) in regulating the immune response to infectious agents suggested that it might affect dendritic cell (DC) development. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells cultured with IFN-alpha and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) developed a dendritic morphology and expressed high levels of the class I and II human leukocyte antigens (HLA), B7 co-stimulatory molecules, adhesion proteins, and CD40. Elevated DC expression of B7-2 and HLA-DR was observed with increasing IFN-alpha concentrations up to 5000 U/mL. The effects of IFN-alpha on DC immunophenotype were not reversed by adding neutralizing antibodies against interleukin-4 (IL-4) or tumor necrosis factor alpha to the cell cultures or by eliminating lymphocytes from the cultures. The addition of IFN-alpha to cultures containing optimal concentrations of IL-4 and GM-CSF significantly increased the B7-2 and HLA-DR levels above those present on DCs grown in two cytokines. The DCs generated with IFN-alpha and GM-CSF were potent antigen-presenting cells in allogeneic mixed leukocyte reactions. They also were capable of taking up, processing, and presenting tetanus toxin to autologous T lymphocytes. These results demonstrate an important role for IFN-alpha in the generation of DCs with potent antigen-presenting capabilities from peripheral blood monocytes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dendritic Cells / cytology*
  • Dendritic Cells / drug effects*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Interferon alpha-2
  • Interferon-alpha / pharmacology*
  • Interleukin-4 / pharmacology
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / cytology*
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / drug effects*
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Activation / physiology
  • Lymphocyte Culture Test, Mixed
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology


  • Interferon alpha-2
  • Interferon-alpha
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Interleukin-4
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor