Research ArticleDENDRITIC CELLS

Human plasmacytoid dendritic cells mount a distinct antiviral response to virus-infected cells

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Science Immunology  02 Apr 2021:
Vol. 6, Issue 58, eabc7302
DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.abc7302

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Touched by a plasmacytoid dendritic cell

Plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) are crucial to generating strong antiviral immune responses, yet it is unclear how these cells recognize viral infections. Yun et al. tested the cytokine production of human pDCs in response to free cytomegalovirus (CMV) or CMV-infected cells in vitro. They found that pDCs generated robust type I and III interferon responses to CMV-infected cells but not free CMV. These pDC interferon responses were long-lasting and facilitated strong antiviral NK cell responses. Elevated interferons and pDC activation were confirmed in patients with active CMV infections. Similar pDC responses were seen with influenza-infected cells. Together, these data suggest a more general phenomenon whereby antiviral immune responses are supported by the direct recognition of virally infected cells by pDCs.

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