Dendritic cell reprogramming by the hypoxic environment

Maria Carla Bosco, Luigi Varesio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Myeloid dendritic cells (DCs) are professional antigen-presenting cells central to the orchestration of innate and acquired immunity and the maintenance of self-tolerance. The local microenvironment contributes to the regulation of DC development and functions, and deregulated DC responses may result in amplification of inflammation, loss of tolerance, or establishment of immune escape mechanisms. DC generation from monocytic precursors recruited at sites of inflammation, tissue damage, or neoplasia occurs under condition of low partial oxygen pressure (pO2, hypoxia). We reviewed the literature addressing the phenotypic and functional changes triggered by hypoxia in monocyte-derived immature (i) and mature (m) DCs. The discussion will revolve around in vitro studies of gene expression profile, which give a comprehensive representation of the complexity of response of these cells to low pO2. The gene expression pattern of hypoxic DC will be discussed to address the question of the relationship with a specific maturation stage. We will summarize data relative to the regulation of the chemotactic network, which points to a role for hypoxia in promoting a migratory phenotype in iDCs and a highly proinflammatory state in mDCs. Current knowledge of the strict regulatory control exerted by hypoxia on the expression of immune-related cell surface receptors will also be addressed, with a particular focus on a newly identified marker of hypoxic DCs endowed with proinflammatory properties. Furthermore, we discuss the literature on the transcription mechanisms underlying hypoxia-regulated gene expression in DCs, which support a major role for the HIF/HRE pathway. Finally, recent advances shedding light on the in vivo influence of the local hypoxic microenvironment on DCs infiltrating the inflamed joints of juvenile idiopathic arthritis patients are outlined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1241-1249
Number of pages9
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • Chemokines/receptors
  • Dendritic cells
  • Gene regulation
  • Hypoxia
  • Immunoregulatory receptors
  • Inflammation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Hematology


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