Plasmacytoid dendritic cells in HIV infection: Striking a delicate balance

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97 Scopus citations


pDC are the most potent IFN-α-producing cells in the body and serve as a vital link between innate and adaptive immunity. Deficiencies in pDC function were among the earliest observations of immune dysfunction in HIV-1 infection. Herein, we review the status of pDC in individuals with HIV-1 infection and the potential role of these cells in pathogenesis. We begin by reviewing the basic properties of pDC and then discuss the compromise in circulating pDC numbers and function in early and viremic HIV-1 infection and mechanisms that might account for their depletion in HIV-infected patients. In addition, we review the evidence that chronic production of IFN-α, probably through the chronic activation of pDC, is central to the immune activation that is so detrimental in HIV infection. Finally, we discuss the importance of balance in pDC numbers and function and the potential value of using absolute pDC counts and function as a biomarker, along with CD4 + cell counts and VL in HIV-1-infected patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)609-620
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Leukocyte Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology


  • IDO
  • IFN-α
  • Natural IFN-producing cells

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