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Cancer Immunol Res. 2013 Sep;1(3):145-9. doi: 10.1158/2326-6066.CIR-13-0102.

Dendritic cells: master regulators of the immune response.

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Author's Affiliation: Genentech, South San Francisco, California.


Dendritic cells (DC) are responsible for initiating all antigen-specific immune responses. As such, they are the master regulators of the immune response and serve this function by linking the microbial sensing features of the innate immune system to the exquisite specificity of the adaptive response. They are exceptionally efficient at antigen presentation and also adept at generating just the right type of T cells in response to a given pathogen. Importantly, DCs also help guide the immune system to respond to foreign antigens while avoiding the generation of autoimmune responses to self. DCs are thus paradoxically important in cancer, generating both immunity and tolerance. Given their central role in controlling the immune response in patients with cancer, DCs are emerging as a critical cell type that must be considered as we come to understand basic cancer immunobiology. They should also be considered as potential targets or at least as key players in any effort intended to generate therapeutic vaccines.

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