T-cell immunity in the liver is tightly regulated to prevent chronic liver inflammation in response to antigens and toxins derived from food and intestinal bacterial flora. Since the main sites of T cell activation in response to foreign components entering solid tissues are the draining lymph nodes (LN), we aimed to study whether Antigen-Presenting Cell (APC) subsets in human liver lymph-draining LN show features that may contribute to the immunologically tolerant liver environment. Healthy liver LN, iliac LN, spleen and liver perfusates were obtained from multi-organ donors, while diseased liver LN were collected from explanted patient livers. Inguinal LN were obtained from kidney transplant recipients. Mononuclear cells were isolated from fresh tissues, and immunophenotypic and functional characteristics of APC subsets were studied using flowcytometry and in ex vivo cultures. Healthy liver-draining LN contained significantly lower relative numbers of CD1c+ conventional dendritic cells (cDC2), plasmacytoid DC (PDC), and CD14+CD163+DC-SIGN+ macrophages (MF) compared to inguinal LN. Compared to spleen, both types of LN contained low relative numbers of CD141hi cDC1. Both cDC subsets in liver LN showed a more activated/mature immunophenotype than those in inguinal LN, iliacal LN, spleen and liver tissue. Despite their more mature status, cDC2 isolated from hepatic LN displayed similar cytokine production capacity (IL-10, IL-12, and IL-6) and allogeneic T cell stimulatory capacity as their counterparts from spleen. Liver LN from patients with inflammatory liver diseases showed a further reduction of cDC1, but had increased relative numbers of PDC and MF. In steady state conditions human liver LN contain relatively low numbers of cDC2, PDC, and macrophages, and relative numbers of cDC1 in liver LN decline during liver inflammation. The paucity of cDC in liver LN may contribute to immune tolerance in the liver environment.

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Keywords myeloid dendritic cell, plasmacytoid dendritic cell, macrophage, human liver, immunological tolerance
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2019.00441, hdl.handle.net/1765/116269
Journal Frontiers in Immunology
Boor, P.P.C, Bosma, B.M, Tran, T.C.K, van der Laan, L.J.W, Hagenaars, H., IJzermans, J.N.M, … Kwekkeboom, J. (2019). Characterization of Antigen-Presenting Cell Subsets in Human Liver-Draining Lymph Nodes. Frontiers in Immunology, 10. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2019.00441