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Abstract

We have demonstrated recently that Birbeck granule-positive Langerhans cells (LC) can be derived from CD34+ peripheral blood progenitor cells in the presence of a seven-cytokine cocktail (CC7–7). Here, we show that the sequential use of early-acting hematopoietic growth factors, stem cell factor, interleukin (IL)-3, and IL-6, followed on day 8 by differentiation in the two-factor combination IL-4 plus granulocytemacrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) (CC4GM) is more efficient and allows the cells to be arrested in the LC stage for more than 1 week while continuous maturation occurs in CC7–7. Maturation of LC to interdigitating dendritic cells (DC) could specifically be induced within 60 hours by addition of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (20 ng/mL) or lipopolysaccharide (100 ng/mL). Using LC that had been enriched to greater than 90% CD1a+ cells by an immunoaffinity column, we were able to define clear-cut differences between LC and DC that corroborate data of the respective cells derived from epithelial borders (LC) or from lymph nodes (LN) and spleen (DC). Thus, molecules and functions involved in antigen (AG) uptake and processing were highly expressed in LC, while those involved in AG presentation were at maximum in DC. LC were CD1a+2 DR+2, CD23+, CD36+, CD80-, CD86-, and CD25-, while DC were CD1a+/- DR+3, CD23-, CD36-, CD80+, CD86+2, and CD25+, CD40 and CD32 were moderately expressed and nearly unchanged on maturation, in contrast to monocyte-derived DC. Macropinocytosis of fluorescein isothiocyanate-dextran was dominant in LC, as were multilamellar major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II compartments (MIICs), which were detected by electron microscopy. The functional dichotomy of these cell types was finally supported by testing the AG-presenting cell function for tetanus toxoid to primed autologous T-cell lines, which was optimal when cells were loaded with AG as LC and subsequently induced to become DC.