Dendritic cells (DCs) are a heterogenous population of antigen-presenting cells, of which conventional DCs and plasmacytoid DCs are the main subsets. Like DC subsets in the central lymphoid organs, DC subsets in the lungs exert specific functions that can be associated with distinct expression of endocytic receptors, cell-surface molecules, and anatomical location within the lung. In recent years, DC populations are increasingly split up into a seemingly endless number of defined sub-populations. We argue that this is not a "stamp-collecting" activity but essential for a deeper understanding of the immune response to pathogens like respiratory viruses or tolerance to harmless antigens. In homeostatic conditions, a fine-tuned balance exists between the various functions of lung DC subsets, which is necessary for maintaining immune homeostasis in the lung. However, infectious or inflammatory conditions can profoundly alter the functions of steady-state DC subsets and recruit inflammatory type DCs to the lung. This might be important for clearing the inflicting pathogenic stimulus, but could at the same time also be involved in causing immune pathology.
|Number of pages||9|
|Publication status||Published - 2008|