The large quantities and complex mixtures of antigens encountered daily at airway mucosal and alveolar surfaces pose a major challenge to maintenance of immunological homeostasis in the respiratory tract. Amongst this myriad of antigens, the immune system must discriminate between innocuous components that can be tolerated by the host and potentially life-threatening pathogens that require a rapid immune response. Dendritic cells (DC) represent the principal cell type at these sites capable of processing antigens and delivering signals that initiate tolerogenic or immunogenic immune responses. This review will discuss the role of DC at the "front-line" of immune surveillance and homeostasis within the respiratory tract and their role in the pathogenesis of respiratory disease.
|Publication status||Published - 2003|