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Plasmacytoid dendritic cells (PDCs) are a unique leukocyte population capable of secreting high levels of type I interferon (IFN) in response to viruses and bacterial stimuli. In vitro experiments have shown that upon maturation, human and murine PDCs develop into potent immunostimulatory cells; however, their ability to prime an immune response in vivo remains to be addressed. We report that CpG-matured murine PDCs are capable of eliciting in naive mice antigen-specific CTLs against endogenous antigens as well as exogenous peptides, but not against an exogenous antigen. Type I IFN is not required for priming, as injection of CpG-matured PDCs into type I IFN receptor-deficient mice elicits functional CTL responses. Mature PDCs prime CTLs that secrete IFN-gamma and protect mice from a tumor challenge. In contrast, immature PDCs are unable to prime antigen-specific CTLs. However, mice injected with immature PDCs are fully responsive to secondary antigenic challenges, suggesting that PDCs have not induced long-lasting tolerance via anergic or regulatory T cells. Our results underline the heterogeneity and plasticity of different antigen-presenting cells, and reveal an important role of mature PDCs in priming CD8 responses to endogenous antigens, in addition to their previously reported ability to modulate antiviral responses via type I IFN.

Original publication




Journal article


J Exp Med

Publication Date





567 - 579


ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 2, ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters, Amino Acid Sequence, Animals, Autoantigens, CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Dendritic Cells, Dinucleoside Phosphates, Isoantigens, Lymphocyte Activation, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Knockout, Molecular Sequence Data, Ovalbumin, Peptide Fragments