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Differential production of IL-12, IFN-alpha, and IFN-gamma by mouse dendritic cell subsets.

Hochrein H, Shortman K, Vremec D, Scott B, Hertzog P, O'Keeffe M

  • Journal Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)

  • Published 19 Jul 2001

  • Volume 166

  • ISSUE 9

  • Pagination 5448-55

  • DOI 10.4049/jimmunol.166.9.5448


Dendritic cells (DC) not only stimulate T cells effectively but are also producers of cytokines that have important immune regulatory functions. In this study we have extended information on the functional differences between DC subpopulations to include differences in the production of the major immune-directing cytokines IL-12, IFN-alpha, and IFN-gamma. Splenic CD4(-)8(+) DC were identified as the major IL-12 producers in response to microbiological or T cell stimuli when compared with splenic CD4(-)8(-) or CD4(+)8(-) DC; however, all three subsets of DC showed similar IL-12 regulation and responded with increased IL-12 p70 production if IL-4 was present during stimulation. High level CD8 expression also correlated with extent of IL-12 production for DC isolated from thymus and lymph nodes. By using gene knockout mice we ruled out any role for CD8alpha itself, or of priming by T cells, on the superior IL-12-producing capacity of the CD8(+) DC. Additionally, CD8(+) DC were identified as the major producers of IFN-alpha compared with the two CD8(-) DC subsets, a finding that suggests similarity to the human plasmacytoid DC lineage. In contrast, the CD4(-)8(-) DC produced much more IFN-gamma than the CD4(-)8(+) or the CD4(+)8(-) DC under all conditions tested.