Type I interferons produced by dendritic cells promote their phenotypic and functional activation.
Montoya M., Schiavoni G., Mattei F., Gresser I., Belardelli F., Borrow P., Tough DF.
Resting dendritic cells (DCs) are resident in most tissues and can be activated by environmental stimuli to mature into potent antigen-presenting cells. One important stimulus for DC activation is infection; DCs can be triggered through receptors that recognize microbial components directly or by contact with infection-induced cytokines. We show here that murine DCs undergo phenotypic maturation upon exposure to type I interferons (type I IFNs) in vivo or in vitro. Moreover, DCs either derived from bone marrow cells in vitro or isolated from the spleens of normal animals express IFN-alpha and IFN-beta, suggesting that type I IFNs can act in an autocrine manner to activate DCs. Consistent with this idea, the ability to respond to type I IFN was required for the generation of fully activated DCs from bone marrow precursors, as DCs derived from the bone marrow of mice lacking a functional receptor for type I IFN had reduced expression of costimulatory and adhesion molecules and a diminished ability to stimulate naive T-cell proliferation compared with DCs derived from control bone marrow. Furthermore, the addition of neutralizing anti-IFN-alpha/beta antibody to purified splenic DCs in vitro partially blocked the "spontaneous" activation of these cells, inhibiting the up-regulation of costimulatory molecules, secretion of IFN-gamma, and T-cell stimulatory activity. These results show that DCs both secrete and respond to type I IFN, identifying type I interferons as autocrine DC activators.