Immature, but not inactive: the tolerogenic function of immature dendritic cells

Immunol Cell Biol. 2002 Oct;80(5):477-83. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1711.2002.01115.x.


The induction of antigen-specific T cell tolerance and its maintenance in the periphery is critical for the prevention of autoimmunity. Recent evidence shows that dendritic cells (DC) not only initiate T cell responses, but are also involved in silencing of T cell immune responses. The functional activities of DC are mainly dependent on their state of activation and differentiation, that is, terminally differentiated mature DC can efficiently induce the development of T effector cells, whereas immature DC are involved in maintenance of peripheral tolerance. The means by which immature DC maintain peripheral tolerance are not entirely clear, however, their functions include the induction of anergic T cells, T cells with regulatory properties as well as the generation of T cells that secrete immunomodulatory cytokines. This review summarizes the current knowledge about the immunoregulatory role of immature DC that might act as guardians for the induction and maintenance of T cell tolerance in the periphery.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation
  • Autoantigens / immunology
  • Autoimmunity
  • Cell Movement
  • Clonal Deletion
  • Dendritic Cells / cytology
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance / immunology*
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Mice
  • Models, Immunological
  • Organ Specificity
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / cytology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology


  • Autoantigens