Skin-draining LN contain several phenotypically distinguishable DC populations, which may be immature or mature. Mature DC are generally considered to have lost the capacity to acquire and present newly encountered Ag. Using antibody-opsonized liposomes as Ag carriers, we show that mature DC purified from skin explants are able to efficiently capture liposomes, process Ag encapsulated within them and activate Ag-specific CD4(+) T cells. Explant DC from mice with Langerhans cells (LC) expressing the primate diphtheria toxin receptor that were exposed to diphtheria toxin in vivo presented Ag as well as explant DC from wild-type mice, indicating that LC are not required and dermal DC are probably responsible for this presentation. We further show that all DC subtypes from LN that capture opsonized Ag are capable of cross-presenting it to CD8(+) T cells. Induction of additional maturation in vivo by LPS or treatment with double-stranded RNA did not alter the Ag presentation capacity of the skin or LN DC subtypes. These results suggest that mature DC present in skin-draining LN may play an important role in the induction of primary and/or secondary immune responses against Ag delivered to the LN that they take up by receptor-mediated endocytosis.
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