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dendritic cells

Tuesday 9 March 2004

Definition : Dendritic cells are a heterogeneous population of leucocytes, playing a major role as immunosurveillance agents. Dendritic cells (DCs) are the most potent antigen-presenting cells.

Immature DCs efficiently capture antigens and differentiate into interdigitating dendritic cells (IDCs) in lymphoid tissues that induce primary T-cell responses.

Dendritic cells (DCs) initiate adaptive immunity and regulate the inflammatory response by producing inflammatory chemokines.

To accomplish this function, dendritic cells are equipped with highly efficient mechanisms to detect pathogens, to capture, process and present antigens, and to initiate T-cell responses.

These mechanisms are developmentally regulated during the DC life cycle in a process termed ’maturation’, which was originally defined using Langerhans cells, a dendritic cells type of the epidermis.

Langerhans cells exist in the skin in an immature state dedicated to capturing antigens, and in the subcutaneous lymph nodes in a mature state dedicated to presenting those antigens to T cells. The phenotypic changes undergone by Langerhans cells during maturation, and the correlation of these changes with tissue localization, have been generally considered a paradigm for all dendritic cells.

gammadelta T cells

T, NK, and gammadelta T cell stimuli may enhance DC maturation, Th polarization and trigger the adaptive immune response. Regulatory effects of gammadelta T cells on inflammation and immune responses may be mediated by their interaction with DCs and they are analyzed in the last years in humans and mice.

In humans, Vgamma9Vdelta2 T cells represent the most part of circulating gammadelta T cells and are activated by non-peptidic molecules derived from different microorganisms or abnormal metabolic routes.

They share both NK-like and effector/memory T cell features, and among these the possibility to interact with DCs. Co-culture of immature DCs with activated Vgamma9Vdelta2 T cells allows DCs to acquire features of mature DCs complementing the migratory activity, up-regulating the chemokine receptors, and antigen presentation.

Similarly to the NK-derived signals, DC activation is mostly mediated by soluble factors secreted by gammadelta T cells.

Many non-peptidic molecules including nitrogen-containing bisphosphonates and pyrophosphomonoester drugs stimulate the activity of Vgamma9Vdelta2 T cells in vitro and in vivo.

The relatively low in vivo toxicity of many of these drugs makes possible novel vaccine and immune-based strategies, through DCs, for infectious and neoplastic diseases.


- Langerhans cells
- interdigitating dendritic cells
- follicular dendritic cells
-  dendrocytes (dermal dendrocytes, mucosal dendrocytes)


- mucosal dendritic cells
- cutaneous dendritic cells
- nodal dendritic cells


- dendritic cell trafficking

Pathology (dendritic cell pathology)

- dendritic cells tumors

  • inflammatory fibroid polyps (IFPs)


- dendritic cell markers

  • fascin
  • CD21
  • CD23
  • CD35
  • DCLAMP (CD208)

See also

- DC-SIGN(+)-dendritic cells
- Langerhans cells

Open references

- The origin of DCs and capacity for immunologic tolerance in central and peripheral tissues. Devi KS, Anandasabapathy N. Semin Immunopathol. 2017 Feb;39(2):137-152. doi : 10.1007/s00281-016-0602-0 PMID: 27888331 Free


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