Plasmacytoid dendritic cells: sensing nucleic acids in viral infection and autoimmune diseases

Nat Rev Immunol. 2008 Aug;8(8):594-606. doi: 10.1038/nri2358.


Plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) are important mediators of antiviral immunity through their ability to produce large amounts of type I interferons (IFNs) on viral infection. This function of pDCs is linked to their expression of Toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7) and TLR9, which sense viral nucleic acids within the early endosomes. Exclusion of self nucleic acids from TLR-containing early endosomes normally prevents pDC responses to them. However, in some autoimmune diseases, self nucleic acids can be modified by host factors and gain entrance to pDC endosomes, where they activate TLR signalling. Several pDC receptors negatively regulate type I IFN responses by pDCs during viral infection and for normal homeostasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Vesicular Transport / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Interferon Type I / immunology
  • Myeloid Differentiation Factor 88 / immunology
  • Nucleic Acids / immunology*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Toll-Like Receptors / immunology
  • Virus Diseases / immunology*


  • Adaptor Proteins, Vesicular Transport
  • Interferon Type I
  • MYD88 protein, human
  • Myeloid Differentiation Factor 88
  • Nucleic Acids
  • TICAM1 protein, human
  • Toll-Like Receptors