In vitro culture of bone marrow (BM) with Fms-like tyrosine kinase 3 ligand (Flt3L) is widely used to study development and function of type 1 conventional dendritic cells (cDC1). Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and many progenitor populations that possess cDC1 potential in vivo do not express Flt3 and thus may not contribute to Flt3L-mediated cDC1 production in vitro. Here, we present a KitL/Flt3L protocol that recruits such HSCs and progenitors into the production of cDC1. Kit ligand (KitL) is used to expand HSCs and early progenitors lacking Flt3 expression into later stage where Flt3 is expressed. Following this initial KitL phase, a second Flt3L phase is used to support the final production of DCs. With this two-stage culture, we achieved approximately tenfold increased production of both cDC1 and cDC2 compared to Flt3L culture. cDC1 derived from this culture are similar to in vivo cDC1 in their dependence on IRF8, ability to produce IL-12, and induction of tumor regression in cDC1-deficient tumor-bearing mice. This KitL/Flt3L system for cDC1 production will be useful in further analysis of cDC1 that rely on in vitro generation from BM.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2250201
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2023


  • Dendritic cell
  • Flt3L
  • HSC
  • KitL
  • Tumor immunology


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