The role of lung dendritic cell subsets in immunity to respiratory viruses

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Abstract

Viral infections are a common cause of acute respiratory disease. The clinical course of infection and symptoms depend on the viral strain, the health status of the host, and the immunological status of the host. Dendritic cells (DCs) play a crucial role in recognizing and presenting viral antigens and in inducing adaptive immune responses that clear the virus. Because the lung is continuously exposed to the air, the lung is equipped with an elaborate network of DCs to sense incoming foreign pathogens. Increasing knowledge on DC biology has informed us that DCs are not a single cell type. In the steady state lung, three DC subsets can be defined: CD11b+ or CD103+ conventional DCs and plasmacytoid DCs. Upon inflammation, inflammatory monocyte-derived DCs are recruited to the lung. It is only recently that tools became available to allow DC subsets to be clearly studied. This review focuses on the activation of DCs and the function of lung DCs in the context of respiratory virus infection and highlights some cautionary points for interpreting older experiments.

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