Bridging channel dendritic cells induce immunity to transfused red blood cells.

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J Exp Med 2016 May 30; 213(6):887-96




Red blood cell (RBC) transfusion is a life-saving therapeutic tool. However, a major complication in transfusion recipients is the generation of antibodies against non-ABO alloantigens on donor RBCs, potentially resulting in hemolysis and renal failure. Long-lived antibody responses typically require CD4(+) T cell help and, in murine transfusion models, alloimmunization requires a spleen. Yet, it is not known how RBC-derived antigens are presented to naive T cells in the spleen. We sought to answer whether splenic dendritic cells (DCs) were essential for T cell priming to RBC alloantigens. Transient deletion of conventional DCs at the time of transfusion or splenic DC preactivation before RBC transfusion abrogated T and B cell responses to allogeneic RBCs, even though transfused RBCs persisted in the circulation for weeks. Although all splenic DCs phagocytosed RBCs and activated RBC-specific CD4(+) T cells in vitro, only bridging channel 33D1(+) DCs were required for alloimmunization in vivo. In contrast, deletion of XCR1(+)CD8(+) DCs did not alter the immune response to RBCs. Our work suggests that blocking the function of one DC subset during a narrow window of time during RBC transfusion could potentially prevent the detrimental immune response that occurs in patients who require lifelong RBC transfusion support. J Exp Med 2016 May 30; 213(6):887-96