Dendritic cells (DCs) are a special type of leukocytes able to alert the immune system to the presence of infections. They play a central role in the initiation of both innate and adaptive immune responses. This particular DC feature is regulated by the activation of specific receptors at the cell surface called Toll-like receptors (TLRs) that bind a number of microbial products collectively referred to as microbial-associated molecular patterns (MAMP). TLRs initiate a cascade of events, which together define the process of DC maturation. This phenomenon allows DCs to progressively acquire varying specific functions. DC maturation depends on the nature of the perturbation and permits unique and efficient immune responses for each pathogen. In this review the discussion is focused on DCs in the context of interactions with pathogens and DC-specific functions are highlighted.
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