Dendritic cells (DC) are the most potent antigen presenting cells (APC). They comprise a family of different subsets and play an essential role in the induction and regulation of immune responses. Recently, gene expression profiling identified BDCA3+CLEC9A+ DC as a separate human DC subset. This subset was identified in blood, where they represent the smallest population of human DC, as well as in lymphoid and peripheral tissues. This review summarizes the phenotypic, functional and developmental characteristics of BDCA3+CLEC9A+ DC in relation to their mouse equivalents CD8α+ DC and CD103+ DC and other human DC subsets. Apart from being potent antigen presenting cells, their specialized functional capacities compared to other human DC subsets, indicate that these BDCA3+CLEC9A+ DC are of major importance in the induction of anti-viral and anti-tumor immunity. Further characterization of their functional properties, developmental pathways and underlying molecular mechanisms may identify target molecules to fully exploit the immune modulatory function of BDCA3+CLEC9A+ DC and potential use of these cells in immunotherapy.

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Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology
Department of Gastroenterology & Hepatology

van der Aa, E, van Montfoort, N, & Woltman, A.M. (2014). BDCA3+CLEC9A+ human dendritic cell function and development. Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology. doi:10.1016/j.semcdb.2014.05.016