Published online Sep 7, 2008. doi: 10.3748/wjg.14.5138
Revised: July 25, 2008
Accepted: August 2, 2008
Published online: September 7, 2008
The gastrointestinal innate and adaptive immune system continuously faces the challenge of potent stimuli from the commensal microflora and food constituents. These local immune responses require a tight control, the outcome of which is in most cases the induction of tolerance. Local T cell immunity is an important compartment of the specific intestinal immune system. T cell reactivity is programmed during the initial stage of its activation by professional presenting cells. Mucosal dendritic cells (DCs) are assumed to play key roles in regulating immune responses in the antigen-rich gastrointestinal environment. Mucosal DCs are a heterogeneous population that can either initiate (innate and adaptive) immune responses, or control intestinal inflammation and maintain tolerance. Defects in this regulation are supposed to lead to the two major forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). This review will discuss the emerging role of mucosal DCs in regulating intestinal inflammation and immune responses.