Thymic dendritic cells (DCs) are a unique subset of bone marrow-derived professional antigen presenting cells (APCs) that interact closely with developing thymocytes and play a crucial role in the process of negative selection and subsequent deletion of potential auto-reactive T cell clones. HIV-1 infection of the thymus has been implicated in the defective regeneration of the CD4+ T cell pool in infected individuals. Thymic DCs are permissive to infection by HIV-1 and given their important role in T cell development, infected DCs within the thymus may contribute to the depletion of T cells. Here we review the phenotype and function of different DC subsets found within the human thymus and discuss potential mechanisms of how DCs may be important in CD4+ T cell dysfunction in HIV-1 infection.
- Dendritic cells
- T cell development