In the past 20 years, dendritic cells (DCs) have been investigated mainly with regard to antigen-specific immune responses and acquired immunity. More recently, new data have indicated a novel and fundamental role for DCs in innate immunity, which is shown by the ability of DCs to induce natural killer (NK) cell activation. In mice, the molecular mechanism by which NK cells are activated by DCs has been revealed, and it consists of the induction of interleukin-2 (IL-2) expression during the early phases of an immune response. Moreover, as indicated by genome-wide transcriptional analysis, microbially activated myeloid DCs produce other chemokines and inflammatory cytokines, such as type I interferons, which in addition to IL-2 are also involved in NK cell activation. This indicates that DCs have a key role in innate immunity. The expression of an innate receptor repertoire on DCs mediates microbial recognition and uptake, and the antigen processing and specific sorting mechanisms lead to very efficient antigen presentation by DCs. Thus, we believe that DCs participate fully in innate responses, forming a bridge between innate and acquired immunity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy