Bacteria are being actively investigated as vaccine carriers for inducing or boosting protective immune responses. In this study, human monocyte-derived dendritic cells (DCs) and normal B cells were compared for their capacity to present the C fragment of tetanus toxin (TTFC), expressed on the surface of recombinant Streptococcus gordonii, to specific CD4+ T lymphocytes. DCs were more efficient than B cells at presenting soluble TTFC and remarkably more capable of presenting bacterium-associated TTFC both in terms of the amount of antigen required to obtain a given T-cell response and on a per-cell basis. This difference was associated with a much lower capacity of B cells to endocytose soluble TTFC and phagocytose recombinant S. gordonii. In addition, S. gordonii induced the phenotypic maturation of DCs but not of B cells. The results thus indicate that DCs but not B cells play a crucial role in the amplification of class II-restricted immune responses induced by immunization with recombinant gram-positive bacteria.
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