The role of dendritic cells in shaping the immune response

Anim Health Res Rev. 2004 Dec;5(2):191-5. doi: 10.1079/ahr200468.


Dendritic cells are central to the initiation of primary immune responses. They are the only antigen-presenting cell capable of stimulating naive T cells, and hence they are pivotal in the generation of adaptive immunity. Dendritic cells also interact with and influence the response of cells of the innate immune system. The manner in which dendritic cells influence the responses in cells of both the innate and adaptive immune systems has consequences for the bias of the adaptive response that mediates immunity to infection after vaccination or infection. It also provides an opportunity to intervene and to influence the response, allowing ways of developing appropriate vaccination strategies. Mouse and human studies have identified myeloid, lymphoid and plasmacytoid dendritic cells. Studies in domesticated animals with agents of specific infectious diseases have confirmed the applicability of certain of the generic models developed from mice or from in vitro studies on human cells. In vivo and ex vivo studies in cattle have demonstrated the existence of a number of subpopulations of myeloid dendritic cells. These cells differ in their ability to stimulate T cells and in the cytokines that they produce, observations clearly having important implications for the bias of the T-cell response. Dendritic cells also interact with the innate immune system, inducing responses that potentially bias the subsequent adaptive response.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases / immunology*
  • Cattle Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Dendritic Cells*
  • Immune System
  • Vaccination / veterinary*
  • Vaccines, Synthetic*


  • Vaccines, Synthetic