Background & Aims: Tissue recruitment of dendritic cells (DCs) is essential for antigen presentation. This study aimed to examine cellular and molecular mechanisms for DC recruitment to the liver. Methods: Purified rat DCs were injected into circulation and their traffics were analyzed in normal and Kupffer cell-depleted rats by intravital confocal microscopy and immunohistology. Affinities of DCs to sinusoidal cells were examined by a cell-binding assay. DC precursor recruitment was induced by particulate injection. Results: Both DC precursors and DCs at the antigen-transporting stage could be recruited to the liver, and their majority initially showed a selective binding to Kupffer cells. In the Kupffer cell-depleted rats, DCs could neither be recruited to the liver nor adhere to sinusoidal walls. Pretreatment with varied monosaccharides showed that sugar residues consisting of N-acetylgalactosamine were necessary for this binding. The binding was calcium-dependent, implying the C-type lectin involvement. Furthermore, DCs could endocytose N-acetylgalactosamine polymers in a receptor-specific manner. Conclusions: The DC-Kupffer cell binding through N-acetylgalactosamine-specific C-type lectin-like receptors is crucial for DC recruitment to the, liver. Rat DCs at least partly possess receptors for endocytosis of galactosylated antigens. These DC receptors as well as Kupffer cell lectins are presumably responsible for this binding.
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