Cutaneous dendritic cells (DCs), Langerhans cells (LCs) and dermal dendritic cells (DDCs), are present in an immature state. The maturation of DCs is crucial for initiating an immune response. Since HLA-DM has an important role for antigen presentation, an increase in HLA-DM expression according to the maturation of blood monocyte-derived dendritic cells (MoDCs), which have similar characteristics with DDCs, is expected. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine whether or not HLA-DM expression in MoDCs is related to maturation at each culture day (from day 0 to day 13) by flow cytometry. This was compared with the functional changes related to the maturation of MoDCs. MoDCs were generated by culturing human peripheral blood monocytes in the presence of GM-CSF and IL-4 for 7 days, which were followed by subsequent treatment with a cytokine cocktail (GM-CSF, IL-4, IL-1 β, TNF- a, IL-6 and PGE2) for the maturation of MoDCs. The intracellular HLA-DM was expressed in the immature MoDC. A sudden 3 to 8 fold increase in the intracellular HLA-DM expression was observed after treatment with a cytokine cocktail. HLA-DM was weakly expressed on the surface of the immature MoDC, but it seemed to be decreased with maturation. This study indicated that the intracellular HLA-DM expression increased, but not on the MoDC surface during maturation. This was despite the fact that HLA-DM expression was noted not only on the surface but also in the intracellular in the MoDC.
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