Dendritic cells (DCs) are specialized, bone marrow-derived leukocytes critical to the onset of both innate and adaptive immunity. The divisions of labor among distinct human DC subtypes achieve the most effective balance between steady-state tolerance and the induction of innate and adaptive immunity against pathogens, tumors, and other insults. Maintenance of tolerance in the steady state is an active process involving resting or semimature DCs. Breakdowns in this homeostasis can result in autoimmunity. Perturbation of the steady state should first lead to the onset of innate immunity mediated by rapid responders in the form of plasmacytoid and monocyte-derived DC stimulators and natural killer (NK) and NK T-cell responders. These innate effectors then provide additional inflammatory cytokines, including interferon-γ, which support the activation and maturation of resident and circulating populations of DCs. These are critical to the onset and expansion of adaptive immunity, including Th1, Th2, and cytotoxic T-lymphocyte responses. Rodent models are now revealing important data about distinct DC precursors, homeostasis of tissue-resident DCs, and DC turnover in response to inflammation and pathological conditions like graft-versus-host disease. The use of defined DC subtypes to stimulate both innate and adaptive immunity, either in combination or in a prime-boost vaccine sequence, may prove most useful clinically by harnessing both effector cell compartments.
- Cell therapy
- Dendritic cell