Improved methods for the generation of dendritic cells from nonproliferating progenitors in human blood

Armin Bender, Mark Sapp, Gerold Schuler, Ralph M. Steinman, Nina Bhardwaj

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625 Scopus citations


We have investigated an improved method for generating sizable numbers of mature dendritic cells from nonproliferating progenitors in human blood. The procedure uses 1% human plasma in the place of 10% fetal calf serum and involves two steps. The first step or 'priming' phase is a 6-7 day culture of T cell depleted mononuclear cells in medium supplemented with GM-CSF and IL-4. The second step or 'differentiation' phase requires the exposure to macrophage conditioned medium. This medium cannot be replaced by several known cytokines such as TNF-α, IL-1, IL-6, IL-12 and IL-15, and cannot be inhibited with neutralizing antibodies to IL-1, TNF-α, IL-6 or IL-12 alone, or in combination. Using this two-step approach, we obtain substantial yields. About 1-3 x 106 mature dendritic cells are generated from 40 ml of blood vs. < 0.1 X 106 from noncytokine treated blood. The dendritic cells derive from progenitors found primarily in a radioresistant population of CD14+ and adherent blood mononuclear cells and have all the features of mature cells. They include a stellate cell shape, nonadherence to plastic, and very strong T cell stimulatory activity. Strong APC function was evident for both the proliferation of allogeneic T cells in the MLR, and the generation by syngeneic T cells of class I restricted, CTL responses to influenza virus. A panel of dendritic cell restricted markers is also expressed, including CD83, p55, and perinuclear CD68. All of these dendritic cell properties are retained for at least 3 days when the cytokines are removed, suggesting that these populations are stable and terminally differentiated. We suggest that these cells will be effective in vivo as adjuvants for active immunotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-135
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Immunological Methods
Issue number2
StatePublished - 27 Sep 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Cytolytic T cell response
  • Dendritic cell
  • Granulocyte/macrophage-colony stimulating factor
  • IL-4


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