Sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) is a lipidic messenger known to exert several physiological functions within the cell. We tested here whether the stimulation of human monocytes with different doses of S1P might interfere with their differentiation into competent dendritic cells (DC). Monocytes cultured with granulocyte macrophage colony stimulating factor, interleukin-4 (IL-4) and S1P differentiated into a DC population lacking CD1a molecules on the surface and acquired some aspects of mature DC (mDC), though in the absence of maturation stimuli. When stimulated with lipopolisaccharide (LPS), CD1a- DC produce high amounts of tumour necrosis factor-α and IL-10, but not IL-12. Accordingly, these CD1a- DC were not capable of stimulating allogenic T lymphocytes so well as CD1a+ DC generated from untreated monocytes and maturated with LPS. S1P monocyte-derived DC lost their polarizing capacity abrogating the production of γ-interferon/IL-4 by co-cultured naïve CD4+CD45RA+ T cells. Our findings suggest a mechanism through which S1P can favour the development of immune-related pathological states.
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