During steady-state conditions, conventional spleen dendritic cells (DC) turn over every 2-3 days. Recent evidence indicates that in situ proliferation of DC arising from immediate conventional DC precursors is an important contributor to their homeostasis. In this study, we report that replication-competent conventional DC precursors and DC can internalize and transfer model particulate and soluble Ags directly to their DC progeny during cell division. Real-time confocal microscopy and flow cytometry indicated that Ag transmission to progeny was symmetrical, and suggested that other mechanisms of inter-DC Ag transfer were not involved. Soluble protein Ags inherited by DC progeny were presented effectively to Ag-specific T lymphocytes. Furthermore, we show that the number of DC, and the proportion that are actively proliferating, expands several-fold during an immune response against a viral infection. Our results point to an unanticipated mechanism in which DC are continuously replaced from Ag-bearing replication-competent precursor cells that pass Ag molecules onto their progeny through successive cell divisions. Our findings help explain how Ag may persist in a population of DC despite the brief lifespan of individual mature DC.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy