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Neurochem Int. 2006 Jul;49(2):195-203. Epub 2006 May 30.

CNS dendritic cells: critical participants in CNS inflammation?

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Department of Biology, Westmont College, 955 La Paz Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93108, United States.


Dendritic cells (DCs) are a heterogeneous population of migratory cells specialized for the uptake, processing, and presentation of antigen to T cells. They consist of a variety of mature subpopulations, classically divided into "lymphoid" and "myeloid" subsets. Although there likely exists significant plasticity and redundancy between DC subpopulations, unique differences have been noted in their abilities for T cell stimulation, tolerance induction, T helper cell polarization, cytokine secretion, and anatomic localization. Although DCs are conspicuously absent from the healthy CNS parenchyma, their presence in the vascular-rich regions of the healthy CNS has been well established and suggests they may have a role in immune surveillance. DCs do accumulate in the CNS parenchyma in a wide range of inflammatory responses including parasite, viral, or bacterial infection and CNS autoimmune disease. They also are present in CNS immune responses without overt T cell involvement, such as the inflammation accompanying CNS injury or neurodegeneration. Controversy remains on the role of CNS DCs during inflammation and whether they differentiate from CNS-resident microglia or infiltrate from a blood-borne population. This review will summarize DC subsets and function, overview the current research on DCs in the healthy and inflamed CNS, and address discrepancies between experimental studies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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