Dendritic cells are named after their branched projections called dendrites. These cells are the sentinels of the immune system and are always testing their surroundings in case they see any danger.
Dendritic cells present antigens to T cells. They use a molecule called histocompatibility complex (MHC) to display little bits and pieces of the antigens they sampled before. However, in order for T cells to recognize the antigens they have to have the right T cell receptor, also known as TCR. If the TCR does not recognize the antigen + MHC combination it will not be able to elicit an immune response. This concept is known as “MHC Restriction”.
In order to study dendritic cells, scientists are able to isolate monocytes and then culture them in dishes with special media and cytokines. These monocytes then slowly turn into dendritic cells.
Below is a links with more information on dendritic cells.
- Overview of Dendritic cells from Wikipedia
- Review on Immature, Semi-Mature, and Fully Mature Dendritic Cells by Frontiers of Immunology
- Protocol for Generation of Bone Marrow Derived Murine Dendritic Cells by Journal of Visualized Experiments