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Expert Rev Mol Med. 2008 Nov 24;10:e35. doi: 10.1017/S1462399408000872.

Manipulation of dendritic cell functions by human cytomegalovirus.

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Department of Medicine, Level 5 Addenbrooke's Hospital, Hills Road, Cambridge CB22QQ, UK.


Dendritic cells are the most potent antigen-presenting cells of the mammalian immune system and are central to the initiation and maintenance of the adaptive immune response. They are crucial for the presentation of antigen to T cells and B cells, as well as the induction of chemokines and proinflammatory cytokines, which orchestrate the balance of the cell-mediated (Th1) and antibody (Th2) response. This ability of dendritic cells to present antigen and release chemokines and cytokines also bridges the innate and adaptive immune responses by driving T cell activation. These cells thus possess key immunological functions that make them the front line of defence for the targeting and clearance of any invading pathogen and, as such, they underpin the host immune response to infection. For efficient infection, invading pathogens often need to overcome these sentinel immune functions. It is therefore not surprising that pathogens have evolved numerous mechanisms to target dendritic cell functions directly or indirectly during infection, and at least one herpesvirus--human cytomegalovirus--has evolved a life cycle that hijacks dendritic cells for its long-term persistence in the infected host.

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