Background: Inflammation and immune responses are integral components in the healing process after myocardial infarction. We previously reported dendritic cell (DC) infiltration in the infarcted heart; however, the precise contribution of DC in postinfarction healing is unclear. Methods and Results: Bone marrow cells from CD11c-diphtheria toxin receptor/green fluorescent protein transgenic mice were transplanted into lethally irradiated wild-type recipient mice. After reconstitution of bone marrow-derived cells, the recipient mice were treated with either diphtheria toxin (DC ablation) or vehicle (control), and myocardial infarction was created by left coronary ligation. CD11c + green fluorescent protein-positive DCs expressing CD11b and major histocompatibility complex class II were recruited into the heart, peaking on day 7 after myocardial infarction in the control group. Mice with DC ablation for 7 days showed deteriorated left ventricular function and remodeling. The DC-ablated group demonstrated enhanced and sustained expression of inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-1β, interleukin-18, and tumor necrosis factor-α, prolonged extracellular matrix degradation associated with a high level of matrix metalloproteinase-9 activity, and diminished expression level of interleukin-10 and endothelial cell proliferation after myocardial infarction compared with the control group. In vivo analyses revealed that DC-ablated infarcts had enhanced monocyte/macrophage recruitment. Among these cells, marked infiltration of proinflammatory Ly6C high monocytes and F4/80 + CD206 - M1 macrophages and, conversely, impaired recruitment of anti-inflammatory Ly6C low monocytes and F4/80 + CD206 + M2 macrophages in the infarcted myocardium were identified in the DC-ablated group compared with the control group. Conclusions - These results suggest that the DC is a potent immunoprotective regulator during the postinfarction healing process via its control of monocyte/macrophage homeostasis.
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