Dendritic CellsJAMA Patrolling immune system cells that may begin the HIV disease process by carrying the virus from the
site of the infection to the lymph nodes, where other immune cells become infected. Dendritic cells travel
through the body and bind to foreign invaders--such as HIV--especially in external tissues, such as the skin
and the membranes of the gut, lungs, and reproductive tract. They then ferry the foreign substance to the
lymph nodes to stimulate T cells and initiate an immune response. In laboratory experiments, the
dendritic cells that carry HIV also bind to CD4+ T cells, thereby allowing HIV to infect the CD4+ T cells.
CD4+ T cells are the critical immune system cells targeted by HIV and depleted during HIV infection. See
also CD4 (T4) or CD4+ CElls; Lymph Nodes; T Cells.
a type of immune system cell with many branches.
Dendritic cells are found in the skin and mucosal membranes. They are
typically the first to arrive at sites of injury or infection, where they
bind to invaders and transport them to the lymph nodes where the cell-mediated
immune response is initiated. Dendritic cells carry the CD4 surface marker,
and may be among the first cells to be infected by HIV.
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