Generation of mature monocyte-derived dendritic cells in the presence of heparin and monocyte conditioned medium: phenotypic and functional comparison.
Mature human dendritic cells can be generated in substantial numbers from nonproliferating progenitors in human blood using a two-step protocol. T cell-depleted mononuclear cells are first cultured with granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor and interleukin-4 (IL-4) and then exposed to monocyte conditioned medium (MCM). The dendritic cells generated using this approach are rendered terminally mature and are the most potent antigen presenting cells identified to date in humans. We sought to characterize factors in MCM that induce the terminal differentiation of dendritic cells. MCM contained substantial, although varying, quantities of several factors including tumor necrosis factor-alpha, IL-1beta, IL-6, and interferon-alpha. However, none of the four factors, individually or in various combinations, could fully substitute for the MCM to generate irreversibly differentiated dendritic cells. The yields, percentage of cells expressing the mature phase marker CD83, and mixed leukocyte reaction-stimulatory function were lower when defined cytokines were used in the place of MCM. Therefore, the full maturation of dendritic cells, because it entails changes in many known cell and molecular properties, requires a number of different cytokines that are released in tandem from appropriately stimulated monocytes. We propose that MCM-matured dendritic cells will be the most effective adjuvants for immunotherapy in vivo.