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Keywords:

  • Hepatic DC;
  • Hepatic tolerance;
  • Hepatic T cell responses

Abstract

The CD11c+ cell population in the non-parenchymal cell population of the mouse liver contains dendritic cells (DC), NK cells, B cells and T cells. In the hepatic CD11c+ DC population from immunocompetent or immunodeficient [recombinase-activating gene-1 (RAG1)–/–] C57BL/6 mice (rigorously depleted of T cells, B cells and NK cells), we identified a B220+ CD11cint subset of ‘plasmacytoid’ DC, and a B220 CD11c+ DC subset. The latter DC population could be subdivided into a major, immature (CD40lo CD80lo CD86lo MHC class IIlo) CD11cint subset, and a minor, mature (CD40hi CD80hi CD86hi MHC class IIhi) CD11chi subset. Stimulated B220+ but not B220 DC produced type I interferon. NKT cell activation in vivo increased the number of liver B220 DC three- to fourfold within 18 h post-injection, and up-regulated their surface expression of activation marker, while it contracted the B220+ DC population. Early in virus infection, the hepatic B220+ DC subset expanded, and both, the B220+ as well as B220 DC populations in the liver matured. In vitro, B220 but not B220+ DC primed CD4+ or CD8+T cells. Expression of distinct marker profiles and functions, and distinct early reaction to activation signals hence identify two distinct B220+ and B220 subsets in CD11c+ DC populations freshly isolated from the mouse liver.