Multidimensional flow-cytometric analysis of dendritic cells in peripheral blood of normal donors and cancer patients
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We studied the potential of multidimensional flow cytometry to evaluate the frequency and maturation/activation status of dendritic cells in minimally manipulated peripheral blood mononuclear cell preparations (i.e., only separated on Ficoll-Hypaque) of normal donors and cancer patients. A rare subset of HLA-DR+ leukocytes (less than 1% mononuclear cells) was detected in blood of normal donors that displayed all the features of dendritic cells: these cells had high forward-light-scatter characteristics and coexpressed CD4, CD86 and CD54 surface antigens, but lacked the lineage-associated surface markers of T cells, B cells, monocytes, granulocytes or NK i.e. they were CD3–, CD19–, CD20–, CD14–, CD11b–, CD16–, CD56–). These physical and phenotypic properties were virtually identical to those of immunomagnetically sorted leukocytes characterized as dendritic-cells on the basis of morphology, phenotype and high stimulatory activity in allogeneic mixed-lymphocyte cultures. Using this flow-cytometric approach we observed that the frequency of dendritic cell-like cells in peripheral blood mononuclear cell specimens of cancer patients receiving chemotherapy alone or those recovering from stem cell transplantation was significantly lower than that of normal individuals (mean ± SE: 0.36 ± 0.05%, 0.14 ± 0.06%, and 0.75 ± 0.04% respectively). Multidimensional flow-cytometric analysis of dendritic cells might represent an important new tool for assessing immunocompetence, and for monitoring the effects of therapeutic regimens on the immune system.
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