Differential migration behavior and chemokine production by myeloid and plasmacytoid dendritic cells

Giuseppe Penna, Marisa Vulcano, Silvano Sozzani, Luciano Adorini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The existence of dendritic cell (DC) subsets is firmly established, but their trafficking properties are still largely unknown. We have indicated that myeloid dendritic cells (M-DCs) and plasmacytoid dendritic cells (P-DCs) isolated from human blood differ widely in the capacity to migrate to chemotactic stimuli. The pattern of chemokine receptors expressed ex vivo by both subsets is similar, but P-DCs display, compared with M-DCs, higher levels of CC chemokine receptor (CCR)5, CCR7, and CXCR3. Intriguingly, most chemokine receptors of P-DCs, in particular those specific for inflammatory chemokines and classical chemotactic agonists, are not functional in circulating cells. Following maturation induced by cluster designation (CD)40 ligation, the receptors for inflammatory chemokines are downregulated and CCR7 on P-DCs becomes coupled to migration. The drastically impaired capacity of blood P-DCs to migrate in response to inflammatory chemotactic signals contrasts with the response to lymph node-homing chemokines, indicating a propensity to migrate to secondary lymphoid organs rather than to sites of inflammation. The distinct migration behavior of DC subsets is accompanied by a different profile of chemokine production. In contrast to the high production by M-DCs, the homeostatic CC chemokine ligand (CCL)17/thymus- and activation-regulated chemokine (TARC) is not produced by PDCs in response to any stimulus tested and their production of CCL22/MDC is minimal, if any, compared with M-DCs. Thus, stimulated M-DCs, but not P-DCs, are able to produce high levels of chemokines recruiting T-helper 2 cells (Th2) and T-regulatory cells. Conversely, the proinflammatory chemokine CCL3/macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-1α is predominantly produced by P-DCs. Therefore, P-DCs appear to produce preferentially proinflammatory chemokines, but to respond selectively to homeostatic ones, whereas the reverse is true for M-DCs, highlighting not only the different migratory properties of these DC subsets, but also their capacity to recruit different cell types at inflammation sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1164-1171
Number of pages8
JournalHuman Immunology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2002


  • Dendritic cell subsets
  • Homeostatic and inflammatory chemokines
  • Recruitment
  • Toll-like receptors
  • Trafficking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy

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