G-CSF is a modulator of T-cell and DC functions. Previous reports show that monocytes from G-CSF-treated (post-G) healthy donors differentiate into tolerogenic DC in vitro in the presence of autologous serum, containing high levels of IL-10 and IFN-alpha, and in turn induce type 1 Treg (Tr1) cells. However, the direct effect of G-CSF on DC differentiation was not investigated. Here, we show that monocytes differentiated in the presence of exogenous G-CSF (G-DC) remain CD14(+) CD1a(-), but acquire a DC-like morphology, express CD83 and CD86 and low levels of the tolerogenic markers Ig-like transcript (ILT)4 and HLA-G. G-DC spontaneously produce IL-10 and, upon stimulation, low levels of IL-12. G-DC display low stimulatory capacity and induce anergy in naive T cells, but do not confer suppressive function. Therefore, in vitro differentiation of monocyte-derived DC in the presence of G-CSF can replicate some but not all features of post-G DC. These findings indicate that the tolerogenic properties of G-CSF do not exclusively reside in its direct effect on DC, which in turn induce T-cell anergy, but also in its ability to generate a tolerogenic milieu in vivo, which is necessary for Tr1 cell induction and cannot be replicated in vitro.
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