The next generation of vaccines are being rationally designed according to rules that govern the way in which antigen is recognised by and stimulates the immune system. Amongst the first cells that encounter potentially dangerous agents such as viruses and bacteria are cells of the innate immune system, such as dendritic cells, that are widely distributed throughout the body including the skin. These cells patrol most tissues and have on their surface an array of receptors that have evolved to recognise many of the surface features of pathogens including the lipids and carbohydrates of structural lipoproteins, glycolipids and glycoproteins. Once encountered, recognised and engaged by a particular receptor on the dendritic cell, pathogenic material may then be transported inside the cell and processed for presentation to cells of the adaptive immune system. The result of this concert of events is a specific cellular or antibody response to particular epitopes of the invading pathogen. If then ways can be found to specifically target dendritic cells, through their specific receptors, then the efficacy and potency of vaccines could well be greatly improved. This review covers some of the approaches that we and others are pursuing in order to achieve this result.
Keywords: dendritic cell, macrophage activating lipoprotein 2, immunity, FITC labelling, NK cells, HIV-1
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