Dendritic cells (DC) and natural killer (NK) cells, the main cellular components of the innate immune system, participate in the most ancient first line of defense against infections. Both types of cells patrol peripheral tissues, whereas their rapid recruitment and activation at mucosal surfaces [the major entry point for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)] is a hallmark of acute inflammatory response. The ability of HIV to survive and replicate in the human host relies upon several molecular mechanisms eluding the immune surveillance of both adaptive immunity and of DC and NK cells beginning with the acute phase of primary HIV infection. DC and NK cells, unlike CD4(+) T cells, are impaired more functionally rather than being depleted by HIV infection. In this article we will review some of the aspects of DUNK cells interaction with HIV infection both in vitro and in vivo, and we will also speculate on the potential consequence for HIV pathogenesis and for the capacity of the virus to escape the surveillance of the innate immune system.
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