Maturation of Monocyte-Derived DCs Leads to Increased Cellular Stiffness, Higher Membrane Fluidity, and Changed Lipid Composition
in: Frontiers in Immunology (2020)
Dendritic cells (DCs) are professional antigen-presenting cells of the immune system. Upon sensing pathogenic material in their environment, DCs start to mature, which includes cellular processes, such as antigen uptake, processing and presentation, as well as upregulation of costimulatory molecules and cytokine secretion. During maturation, DCs detach from peripheral tissues, migrate to the nearest lymph node, and find their way into the correct position in the net of the lymph node microenvironment to meet andinteract with the respective T cells. We hypothesize that the maturation of DCs is well prepared and optimized leading to processes that alter various cellular characteristics from mechanics and metabolism to membrane properties. Here, we investigated the mechanical properties of monocyte-derived dendritic cells (moDCs) using real-time deformability cytometry to measure cytoskeletal changes and found that mature moDCs were stiffer compared to immature moDCs. These cellular changes likely play an important role in the processes of cell migration and T cell activation. As lipids constitute the building blocks of the plasma membrane, which, during maturation, need to adapt to the environment for migration and DC-T cell interaction, we performed an unbiased high-throughput lipidomics screening to identify the lipidome of moDCs. These analyses revealed that the overall lipid composition was significantly changed during moDC maturation, even implying an increase of storage lipids and differences of the relative abundance of membrane lipids upon maturation. Further, metadata analyses demonstrated that lipid changes were associated with the serum low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and cholesterol levels in the blood of the donors. Finally, using lipid packing imaging we found that the membrane of mature moDCs revealed a higher fluidity compared to immature moDCs. This comprehensive and quantitative characterization of maturation associated changes in moDCs sets the stage for improving their use in clinical application.