The aim of the present study was to elucidate the impact of liver transplantation (LTX) on myeloid dendritic cell (MDC) homeostasis. We observed a threefold reduction of circulating CD1c+MDC immediately after LTX (n = 16; P < 0.01), and normalization between 3 and 12 months after LTX. This decline was not due to recruitment of MDC into the liver graft, as numbers of MDC in post-LTX liver graft biopsies were not increased compared to pre-LTX biopsies (n = 7). Moreover, no change in chemokine receptor expression on circulating MDC was observed, suggesting that their homing properties were not altered. Normalization of circulating MDC was associated with withdrawal of corticosteroid therapy, and not with changes in calcineurin inhibitor intake, indicating that corticosteroids are responsible for the observed changes in numbers of circulating MDC. During high-dose corticosteroid treatment early after LTX, circulating MDC showed a lowered maturation status with decreased expression of human leucocyte antigen D-related (HLA-DR) and CD86 compared to pre-LTX values (P < 0.01). However, when MDC from blood of LTX recipients were matured ex vivo, they up-regulated HLA-DR and co-stimulatory molecules to a comparable extent as MDC from healthy individuals. In addition, ex vivo matured MDC from both groups had equal allogeneic T cell stimulatory capacity. In conclusion, during the first months after LTX numbers and maturational status of circulating MDC are impaired significantly, probably due to a suppressive effect of corticosteroids on MDC. However, corticosteroid therapy does not imprint MDC with an intrinsic resistance to maturation stimuli.

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Clinical and Experimental Immunology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Bosma, B., Metselaar, H., Tra, W., Mancham, S., Kuipers, E., Tilanus, H., & Kwekkeboom, J. (2007). Impairment of circulating myeloid dendritic cells in immunosuppressed liver transplant recipients. Clinical and Experimental Immunology, 149(3), 525–534. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2249.2007.03449.x