Lung dendritic cells and the inflammatory response

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To discuss the role of conventional and plasmacytoid dendritic cells in inducing and modulating immune responses in the lung.

Data Sources:

The primary literature and selected review articles studying the role of dendritic cells in both rodent and human lungs as identified via a PubMed/MEDLINE search using the keywords dendritic cell, antigen-presenting cell, viral airway disease, asthma, allergy, and atopy.

Study Selection:

The author's knowledge of the field was used to identify studies that were relevant to the stated objective.


Dendritic cells are well positioned in the respiratory tract and other mucosal surfaces to respond to any foreign protein. These cells are crucial to the initiation of the adaptive immune response through induction of antigen specific T-cell responses. These cells also play an important role in the regulation of developing and ongoing immune responses, an area that is currently under intense investigation. This review discusses the various subsets of human and rodent dendritic cells and the pathways involved in antigen processing and subsequent immune regulation by dendritic cells in the lung using both viral and nonviral allergenic protein exposure as examples.


Conventional and plasmacytoid dendritic cells are uniquely situated in the immune cascade to not only initiate but also modulate immune responses. Therapeutic interventions in allergic and asthmatic diseases will likely be developed to take advantage of this exclusive position of the dendritic cell.

Off-label disclosure:

Dr Grayson has indicated that this article does not include the discussion of unapproved/investigative use of a commercial product/device.

Financial disclosure:

Dr Grayson has indicated that in the last 12 months he has served on the speaker's bureau for Merck and has received research support from Genentech/Novartis.

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