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Previous studies have shown that dendritic cells (DCs) can phagocytize, process and present a microencapsulated form of ovalbumin (OVA) in the context of class I MHC as well as class II MHC. In the present study, we examined the effects of recombinant human macrophage-colony stimulating factor (M-CSF) on the MHC-restricted presentation of microencapsulated OVA by DCs. Two types of DCs were generated from mouse bone marrow (BM) cells, one type with granulocyte/macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) alone, the other type with GM-CSF and interleukin (IL)-4. Pretreatment with M-CSF significantly enhanced both class I MHC and class II MHC-restricted presentation of exogenous OVA by both types of DCs. The enhancing activity of M-CSF on antigen presentation was more potent in DCs generated with GM-CSF alone compared to DCs generated with both GM-CSF and IL-4. Pretreatment of the DCs with M-CSF did not increase phagocytic activity or total level of expression of class I MHC (H-2Kb) molecules, but increased expression of OVA peptide-H-2Kb complexes upon phagocytosis of microencapsulated OVA. These results demonstrate that M-CSF increases intracellular processing events of phagocytized antigen in DCs.