Dendritic cells and interleukin-2: cytochemical and ultrastructural study


  • Rosanna Nano
  • M. Civallero
  • S. Barni
  • E. Capelli


blood monocyte, dendritic cell, ultrastructure, cytochemistry


The aim of the present study was to verify the effect of IL-2 on dendritic cell (DC) differentiation. Various cytokines have been indicated as factors inducing DC differentiation, but no data about the interleukin-2 (IL-2) effect on DC differentiation have been reported. Monocytes isolated from peripheral blood were treated in vitro with the following factors: IL-2, IL- 4, GM-CSF and G-CSF alone or in combination. Morphological (also ultrastructural) and cytochemical observations were carried out starting from 3 to 21 days of treatment. The results indicate that the differentiation of cells showing dendritic pattern is related to the presence of IL-2. Moreover a synergic effect of IL-2 and GM-CSF was observed. The enzymatic features changed with the culture time: before the differentiation into DC, the stimulated cells expressed the typical pattern of monocytes. On the contrary, at advanced stage of differentiation, some enzyme activities changed and in terminally differentiated dendritic cells the reactions for peroxidase and serine esterase were negative.

Considering the morphological features, the ability to interact with lymphocytes and the enzymatic pattern observed, we suppose that IL-2 may act as a maturative factor rather than as a growth factor in the DC differentiation.