Dendritic Cells Play an Important Role in Respiratory Infections

As reported in Technology Network, a group of international scientists from the VIB-UGent Center presented a new antigen immune cell.

These antigen-presenting cells belong to a group of dendritic cells (DCs) that perform the critical function of distributing antigens to other cells in the immune system during virus infections.

About Dendritic Cells

Dendritic, taken from the Greek “dendron”, or tree, means being branched. DCs, which are found in the spleen and lymph nodes, activate T cells, stimulate the growth of B cells, and are one of the immune system’s key regulators.

DCs, a type of white blood cells, continually scan the body looking for infections. When the body senses an infection, it reacts with fever and inflammation. This causes the emergence of subtype DCs. These subtype DCs become macrophages, another type of immune stimulating white blood cell.

About DCs and Vaccines

Researchers have discovered that DCs are responsible for establishing immunological “memory” which is a basis of vaccines.

In this regard, biotechnology companies and physicians have begun to “vaccinate” cancer patients with DCs that contain parts of the patient’s own tumors. Then they activate the patient’s immune systems against their cancer.

The Dark Side of Dendritic Cells

HIV is known to hide inside DCs as they are transported to lymph nodes, where they infect T cells and cause AIDS.

Also, ill-timed DC activity leads to lupus and other autoimmune disorders. Under those circumstances, if their activity can be shut down, it would be an opportunity to develop new therapies.

DCs, Emergency Treatment, and COVID-19

Researchers are studying another type of respiratory virus as it relates to COVID-19 pandemic. The focus is on an emergency treatment using convalescent plasma. That is the blood plasma from recovered patients.

The lead author of a paper on the subject, wrote that functional Fc receptors are found in the new DCs. These receptors express the same antibodies found in plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19

This may be the reason that convalescent plasma is able to give a boost to the immune responses in patients infected with the virus.


Rose Duesterwald

Rose Duesterwald

Rose became acquainted with Patient Worthy after her husband was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) six years ago. During this period of partial remission, Rose researched investigational drugs to be prepared in the event of a relapse. Her husband died February 12, 2021 with a rare and unexplained occurrence of liver cancer possibly unrelated to AML.

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