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Role of dendritic cells in the lung: in vitro models, animal models and human studies
Expert Review of Respiratory Medicine
Dendritic cells (DCs) are the most potent antigen-presenting cells in the human lung and are now recognized as crucial initiators of immune responses in general. They are arranged as sentinels in a dense surveillance network inside and below the epithelium of the airways and alveoli, where thet are ideally situated to sample inhaled antigen. DCs are known to play a pivotal role in maintaining the balance between tolerance and active immune response in the respiratory system. It is no surprise that the lungs became a main focus of DC-related investigations as this organ provides a large interface for interactions of inhaled antigens with the human body. During recent years there has been a constantly growing body of lung DC-related publications that draw their data from in vitro models, animal models and human studies. This review focuses on the biology and functions of different DC populations in the lung and highlights the advantages and drawbacks of different models with which to study the role of lung DCs. Furthermore, we present a number of up-to-date visualization techniques to characterize DC-related cell interactions in vitro and/or in vivo.
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