The role of type I interferon production by dendritic cells in host defense

Biochimie. Jun-Jul 2007;89(6-7):843-55. doi: 10.1016/j.biochi.2007.04.018. Epub 2007 May 8.


Type I interferons (IFN) and dendritic cells (DC) share an overlapping history, with rapidly accumulating evidence for vital roles for both production of type 1 IFN by DC and the interaction of this IFN both with DC and components of the innate and adaptive immune responses. Within the innate immune response, the plasmacytoid DC (pDC) are the "professional" IFN producing cells, expressing specialized toll-like receptors (TLR7 and -9) and high constitutive expression of IRF-7 that allow them to respond to viruses with rapid and extremely robust IFN production; following activation and production of IFN, the pDC subsequently mature into antigen presenting cells that help to shape the adaptive immune response. However, like most cells in the body, the myeloid or conventional DC (mDC or cDC) also produce type I IFNs, albeit typically at a lower level than that observed with pDC, and this IFN is also important in innate and adaptive immunity induced by these classic antigen presenting cells. These two major DC subsets and their IFN products interact both with each other as well as with NK cells, monocytes, T helper cells, T cytotoxic cells, T regulatory cells and B cells to orchestrate the early immune response. This review discusses some of the converging history of DC and IFN as well as mechanisms for IFN induction in DC and the effects of this IFN on the developing immune response.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Dendritic Cells / cytology*
  • Dendritic Cells / virology*
  • Humans
  • Immune System
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Interferon Type I / metabolism*
  • Interferons / metabolism
  • Killer Cells, Natural / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Myeloid Cells / metabolism
  • Myeloid Cells / virology
  • Virus Diseases / metabolism


  • Cytokines
  • Interferon Type I
  • Interferons