• dendritic cells;
  • DEC-205;
  • human spleen;
  • perifollicular zone;
  • macrophages


The distribution of dendritic cells (DCs) and macrophages in the human spleen has received less attention than that of lymphocytes. Here we have addressed this problem with the human DEC-205/CD205 marker (‘DEC’), which is an endocytic receptor on DCs that mediates efficient presentation of antigens. DEC was abundant on dendritic profiles in the white pulp but absent from the red pulp, the latter defined with antibodies to two antigens, mannose receptor/CD206 on sinusoidal lining cells, and macrosialin/CD68 on macrophages. Double staining with anti-DEC and anti-CD3 showed the expected concentration of DEC+ cells in the relatively small T-cell areas of the human spleen. DEC+ cells were also found in other regions of the white pulp. In all regions, the DEC+ cells were positive for major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II and the CD11c integrin but largely immature, with low expression of B7-2/CD86 costimulator and DC-lysosome-associated membrane protein (LAMP)/CD208. When we concentrated on the perifollicular region between the red pulp and the marginal zone, we found macrophages that stained with antibodies to sialoadhesin/CD169 and DC-specific ICAM-3 grabbing non-integrin (SIGN)/CD209, and just inside these cells were DEC+ profiles. The DEC+ DCs were intertwined with cells that stained for the vascular addressin mucosal addressin cell adhesion molecule (MAdCAM). Therefore, anti-DEC-205/CD205 antibodies are useful for identifying DCs in human splenic white pulp and its border region with the red pulp.