It was just last week when I wrote about a paper featuring Dendritic Cells, the surveillance sentries of the mammalian immune system. It was remiss of me, and unconscionably so (hindsight, as they say, is 20-20), not to mention the name of Ralph Steinman, who – in conjunction with Zanvil Cohn (in whose lab he was a post-doctoral fellow at that time) – discovered, and coined the term, “dendritic cell”. Steinman passed away on September 30, 2011, at the age of 68, three days before his name was announced for the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in recognition of his life’s work on Dendritic Cells.
In the first part, I introduced the Dendritic Cells (DCs) as immune sentries entrusted with a surveillance function, and mentioned how HIV is able to subvert the normal functions of DCs and and use them as Trojan Horses to infect CD4+ helper T-cells. I also referred to a 2009 study which discovered a possible involvement of certain membrane lipids in the process of DC-mediated HIV trans-infection of T-cells.
Dendritic Cells (DCs) are important members of the mammalian immune system. Working at the interface of innate and adaptive immune response, DCs are primarily antigen-presenting cells (APCs). DCs are derived from certain hematopoietic (bone-marrow derived) progenitors of either lymphoid or myeloid lineage, giving rise, respectively, to plasmacytoid DCs (pDCs) and myeloid DCs (mDCs) that localize to mucosal epithelium (inner lining of nose, lungs, the GI tract; also, the langerhans cells of the skin), as well as to peripheral blood.