Dendritic cells: The commanders-in-chief of mucosal immune defenses

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58 Scopus citations


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Intestinal dendritic cells have emerged as key regulators of immunity to pathogens, oral tolerance and intestinal inflammation. Studies have begun to elucidate the regulatory mechanisms responsible for defining region- and compartment-specific phenotypes and functions of dendritic cells in mucosal tissues. RECENT FINDINGS: Specific subsets of dendritic cells appear to be associated with the various routes for antigen acquisition in the intestine. The constant sampling of intestinal antigenic content ensures establishment of tolerance to commensal bacteria and food antigens. Tolerance development to oral antigens is restricted to the mucosal immune system. Other advances have provided insight into the molecular basis of microbial recognition and innate immune responses by intestinal dendritic cells. Differences in the involvement of dendritic cells have begun to emerge in Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis and link gene regulation in dendritic cells to therapeutic responses. SUMMARY: A major focus of mucosal immunology will be to understand how diverse dendritic cell subsets cooperate in regulating homeostasis and host defense in the different intestinal immune compartments. This will be pivotal to understanding how the mucosal immune system makes the distinction between commensal microbiota, pathogens and self antigens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)354-360
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Gastroenterology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptive immunity
  • Dendritic cells
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Innate immunity
  • Intestinal microbiota
  • Pathogen defense
  • Tolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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