To determine whether infection by a model virus is capable of initiating dendritic cell (DC) differentiation, human CD14 + peripheral blood monocytes were infected with replication-defective type 5 adenovirus. Under serum-free conditions, this resulted in differentiation of a majority of cells toward a DC phenotype within 36 to 48 hours, without the need for cytokine-induced predifferentiation. Infection induced DC morphology and altered the expression of surface markers, including loss of CD14, de novo induction of CD83 and CD25, and strongly augmented expression of CD86, CD80, CD40, and HLA-DR and HLA class I molecules. Differentiated cells maintained immunophenotype without loss of viability for at least 2 days after removal of the differentiation agent and cytokines. A greatly enhanced capacity to stimulate T-lymphocyte alloproliferation and increased expression of the DC-associated transcription factor RelB were observed. Virus without transgene was found to induce changes similar to transgene-expressing viruses. RelB up-regulation and DC immunophenotype were sensitive to the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine, suggesting a critical role for nuclear factor κB. RNAse protection assays revealed elevated levels of messenger RNA for a number of chemokines and cytokines associated with DCs. Finally, during differentiation, adenovirus-infected monocytes were shown to secrete chemokines and cytokines, including tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α). Furthermore, a TNF-α-neutralizing antibody inhibited the expression of some DC surface markers, indicating a contributing role for this cytokine in the adenovirus-induced differentiation of DC from monocytes. These findings have implications for the biology of monocytes as precursors to DCs and also for the use of recombinant adenovirus in vaccines or gene therapy.
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