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Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2006;140(1):53-72. Epub 2006 Mar 13.

Ins and outs of dendritic cells.

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  • 1Department of Immunohematology and Blood Transfusion, Leiden University Medical Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands. d.beekman@ncmls.ru.nl


Dendritic cells (DC) are professional antigen-presenting cells which are strategically positioned at the boundaries between the inner and the outside world, in this way bridging innate and adaptive immunity. DC can initiate T cell responses against microbial pathogens and tumors due to their capacity to stimulate naïve T cells. The development of DC occurs in distinct stages. DC precursors develop in the bone marrow and home to a large variety of tissues. Immature DC capture antigen (Ag) and, following proinflammatory signals, migrate to the lymphoid organs where, after maturation, they present captured Ag to naïve T cells, thereby inducing differentiation of naïve T cells into effector T cells. An important cognate event in the development of cell-mediated immunity is the interaction between CD40 and CD40 ligand. Ligation of CD40 on DC by its ligand results in maturation of the DC. In addition to CD40 ligand (expressed by activated Th cells), inflammatory cytokines, bacterial components or Ag-Ab immune complexes can induce maturation of DC. Maturation of DC is crucial for the priming of efficient T cell responses and is characterized by a decreased Ag processing capacity, an increased cell surface expression of MHC and costimulatory molecules, and rearrangement of cytoskeleton, adhesion molecules, and cytokine receptors. Mature DC migrate from peripheral tissues to secondary lymphoid organs, where T cell priming occurs. DC are not only critical in initiating T cell immunity, they also play a role in the induction of T cell tolerance and the regulation of the type of T cell response that is induced. Here we give an overview of the dendritic cell system.

Copyright 2006 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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