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Clinical and Developmental Immunology
Volume 2008, Article ID 106321, 10 pages
Review Article

Physiological Role of Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cells and Their Potential Use in Cancer Immunity

1Department of Immunology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic Arizona, 13400 E. Shea Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ 85259, USA
2Department of Biology, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 9201 University City Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28223, USA

Received 20 August 2008; Accepted 12 October 2008

Academic Editor: Michel Goldman

Copyright © 2008 Jorge Schettini and Pinku Mukherjee. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Dendritic cells (DCs) play a pivotal role in the control of innate and adaptive immune responses. They are a heterogeneous cell population, where plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) are a unique subset capable of secreting high levels of type I IFNs. It has been demonstrated that pDCs can coordinate events during the course of viral infection, atopy, autoimmune diseases, and cancer. Therefore, pDC, as a main source of type I IFN, is an attractive target for therapeutic manipulations of the immune system to elicit a powerful immune response against tumor antigens in combination with other therapies. The therapeutic vaccination with antigen-pulsed DCs has shown a limited efficacy to generate an effective long-lasting immune response against tumor cells. A rational manipulation and design of vaccines which could include DC subsets outside “Langerhans cell paradigm” might allow us to improve the therapeutic approaches for cancer patients.