Hepatic Dendritic Cells, the Tolerogenic Liver Environment, and Liver Disease

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The unique liver immune microenvironment favors resistance to inflammation that promotes normal physiological function. At the same time, it endows the liver with tolerogenic properties that may promote pathological processes. Hepatic dendritic cells (HDCs) initiate and orchestrate immune responses depending on signals they receive from the local environment and are thought to contribute to liver tolerance. Thus, HDCs facilitate impaired T cell responses that are observed in persistent hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, hepatocellular carcinoma progression, and liver allograft transplantation. HDCs also participate in anti-inflammatory responses in liver ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI). Moreover, they promote the regression of fibrosis from various fibrogenic liver injuries. These findings suggest that HDCs regulate intrahepatic immune responses, allowing the liver to maintain homeostasis and integrity even under pathological conditions. This review focuses on the tolerogenic properties of HDCs based on recent research and in relation to liver disease pathogenesis and its therapy.

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