Human blood dendritic cells selectively express CD83, a member of the immunoglobulin superfamily.
Dendritic cells are potent APC that initiate primary T cell-dependent immune responses. The lack of lineage-associated cell surface Ags for human dendritic cells has made characterization of this lineage difficult. In this study, analysis of leukocyte subpopulations isolated from human blood revealed that circulating or cultured B and T cells, NK cells, and monocytes did not express CD83, whereas CD83+ cells were predominantly found in the dendritic cell-enriched metrizamide low density fraction of plastic nonadherent blood mononuclear cells. Blood CD83+ cells had a cellular morphology characteristic of dendritic cells and a cell surface phenotype that did not correlate with that of T cells, B cells, NK cells, or cells of the myelomonocytic lineage. Analysis of CD83+ cells with a panel of mAbs that identify 126 leukocyte cell surface Ags revealed the CD83+ cells to be a phenotypically homogeneous and unique population of cells that expressed the highest levels of MHC class II molecules when compared with other leukocyte lineages. CD83+ cells were also the most potent stimulator cells in an allogeneic MLR when compared with other leukocyte lineages. Functional analysis of CD83+ cells revealed that MHC class II, CD11a, CD40 and CD86 played functionally dominant roles, whereas CD80 contributed minimally to the specialized costimulatory activity of these potent APC. Thus, CD83 serves as a useful and specific marker for this unique population of human blood dendritic cells.
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