TRAIL(+) human plasmacytoid dendritic cells kill tumor cells in vitro: mechanisms of imiquimod- and IFN-α-mediated antitumor reactivity.
ABSTRACT Dendritic cells (DCs) not only exhibit the unique capacity to evoke primary immune responses, but may also acquire TLR-triggered cytotoxic activity. We and others have previously shown that TLR7/8- and TLR9-stimulated plasmacytoid DCs (pDCs) isolated from human peripheral blood express the effector molecule TRAIL. The exact mechanisms through which pDCs acquire and elicit their cytotoxic activity are still not clear. We now show that in the absence of costimulators, TRAIL induction on pDCs occurs with agonists to intracellular TLRs only and is accompanied by a phenotypic as well as functional maturation, as evidenced by a comparatively superior MLR stimulatory capacity. pDCs acquired TRAIL in an IFN-α/β-dependent fashion and, notably, TRAIL expression on pDCs could be induced by IFN-α stimulation alone. At a functional level, both TLR7/8- (imiquimod [IMQ]) and TLR9-stimulated (CpG2216) pDCs lysed Jurkat T cells in a TRAIL- and cell contact-dependent fashion. More importantly, IFN-α-activated pDCs acquired similar cytotoxic properties, independent of TLR stimulation and maturation. Both IMQ- and IFN-α-activated pDCs could also lyse certain melanoma cell lines in a TRAIL-dependent fashion. Interestingly, suboptimal doses of IMQ and IFN-α exhibited synergistic action, leading to optimal TRAIL expression and melanoma cell lysis by pDCs. Our data imply that tumor immunity in patients receiving adjuvant IMQ and/or IFN-α may involve the active participation of cytotoxic pDCs.