CNS dendritic cells: Critical participants in CNS inflammation?

Eileen J. McMahon, Samantha L. Bailey, Stephen D. Miller*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Dendritic cells (DCs) are a heterogeneous population of migratory cells specialized for the uptake, processing, and presentation of antigen to T cells. They consist of a variety of mature subpopulations, classically divided into "lymphoid" and "myeloid" subsets. Although there likely exists significant plasticity and redundancy between DC subpopulations, unique differences have been noted in their abilities for T cell stimulation, tolerance induction, T helper cell polarization, cytokine secretion, and anatomic localization. Although DCs are conspicuously absent from the healthy CNS parenchyma, their presence in the vascular-rich regions of the healthy CNS has been well established and suggests they may have a role in immune surveillance. DCs do accumulate in the CNS parenchyma in a wide range of inflammatory responses including parasite, viral, or bacterial infection and CNS autoimmune disease. They also are present in CNS immune responses without overt T cell involvement, such as the inflammation accompanying CNS injury or neurodegeneration. Controversy remains on the role of CNS DCs during inflammation and whether they differentiate from CNS-resident microglia or infiltrate from a blood-borne population. This review will summarize DC subsets and function, overview the current research on DCs in the healthy and inflamed CNS, and address discrepancies between experimental studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-203
Number of pages9
JournalNeurochemistry International
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2006


  • CNS autoimmunity
  • CNS inflammation
  • Dendritic cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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