Functional dichotomy of plasmacytoid dendritic cells: Antigen-specific activation of T cells versus production of type I interferon



Human plasmacytoid dendritic cells (PDC) are believed to link innate and adaptive immunity by producing type I interferon (IFN-I) and triggering adaptive T cell-mediated immunity. However, it remains elusive to which degree both PDC functions are linked. Here we show that CMV antigen targeted to PDC using a CD303 (blood dendritic cell antigen 2, BDCA-2) mAb is rapidly endocytosed and traffics via early sorting endosomes to emerging MHC-enriched compartments. Both processes occur independently of TLR ligand stimulation. Restimulation of CMV-specific CD4+ effector-memory T helper cells by autologous PDC and induction of IFN-I production in PDC are dependent on appropriate stimulation. Type B CpG oligonucleotide (CpG-B)-stimulated PDC efficiently process and present CMV antigen and are thus capable of stimulating CMV-specific effector-memory T helper cells. CpG-A-stimulated PDC produce large amounts of IFN-I and express programmed death receptor-1 ligand 1. CpG-A plus CpG-B-co-stimulated PDC behave like CpG-B-stimulated PDC, suggesting that antigen processing and presentation in PDC is dependent on stimulation that concurrently inhibits IFN-I production. In vivo targeting of antigens to PDC via CD303 combined with appropriate PDC stimulation may allow induction of specific T cell activation.

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