Effective viral clearance requires the induction of virus-specific CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL). Since dendritic cells (DC) have a central role in initiating and shaping virus-specific CTL responses, it is important to understand how DC initiate virus-specific CTL responses. Some viruses can directly infect DC, which theoretically allow direct presentation of viral antigens to CTL, but many viruses target other cells than DC and thus the host depends on the cross-presentation of viral antigens by DC to activate virus-specific CTL. Research in mouse models has highly enhanced our understanding of the mechanisms underlying cross-presentation and the dendritic cells (DC) subsets involved, however, these results cannot be readily translated toward the role of human DC in MHC class I-antigen presentation of human viruses. Here, we summarize the insights gained in the past 20 years on MHC class I presentation of viral antigen by human DC and add to the current debate on the capacities of different human DC subsets herein. Furthermore, possible sources of viral antigens and essential DC characteristics for effective induction of virus-specific CTL are evaluated. We conclude that cross-presentation is not only an efficient mechanism exploited by DC to initiate immunity to viruses that do not infect DC but also to viruses that do infect DC, because cross-presentation has many conceptual advantages and bypasses direct immune modulatory effects of the virus on its infected target cells. Since knowledge on the mechanism of viral antigen presentation and the preferred DC subsets is crucial for rational vaccine design, the obtained insights are very instrumental for the development of effective anti-viral immunotherapy.

Cross-presentation, CTL priming, Human dendritic cell, Immunotherapy, MHC class I-antigen presentation, Viral immunity, Virus, Virus-host interaction
dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2014.00182, hdl.handle.net/1765/62349
Frontiers in Immunology
Department of Gastroenterology & Hepatology

van Montfoort, N, van der Aa, E, & Woltman, A.M. (2014). Understanding MHC class I presentation of viral antigens by human dendritic cells as a basis for rational design of therapeutic vaccines. Frontiers in Immunology (Vol. 5). doi:10.3389/fimmu.2014.00182