The interactions between human dendritic cells and microbes; possible clinical applications of dendritic cells
The dendritic cells comprise several subsets that induce and regulate the immune responses against foreign and self-antigens, and that can therefore function as initiators of protective immunity and inducers of central or peripheral tolerance. The different subpopulations of dendritic cells interact with and also influence other cell populations of the immune system, such as T and B lymphocytes and natural killer cells. The factors that determine the given dendritic cell functions depend on the state of maturation and the local microenvironment. The interactions between dendritic cells and microorganisms are rather complex, but progress in the past few years has shed light on several aspects of these interactions. This review lays emphasis on the interactions between human dendritic cells, important components of the intima of arterial specimens at areas predisposed to atherosclerotic lesions, and Chlamydia pneumoniae and cytomegalovirus, the human pathogens most strongly implicated in the development of atherosclerosis. In addition, several examples of the potential clinical applications of dendritic cells are described.