noun, plural: dendritic cells
A white blood cell that serves as an antigen-presenting cell, and characterized by the presence of dendrites
Dendritic cells are white blood cells morphologically characterized by having branching processes (dendrites). These cells occur in the mammalian immune system. They are primarily involved in antigen presentation, i.e. processing an antigen material and presenting it on the surface of their cell for T cell recognition.
Dendritic cells come from the multipotent hematopoietic stem cells (hemocytoblasts). The hemocytoblasts give rise to the various cellular elements of the blood via a process called hematopoiesis. The hemocytoblasts, in particular, give rise to two major types of progenitor cells: (1) common myeloid progenitor cells (of the myeloid series) and (2) common lymphoid progenitor cells (of the lymphoid series). Based on these lineages, the dendritic cells may be classified as myeloid or lymphoid. A myeloid dendritic cell is the one that originates from the common myeloid progenitor cell. Conversely, a lymphoid dendritic cell originates from the common lymphoid progenitor cell.
In the myeloid series, the monocytes may develop to either a macrophage or a myeloid dendritic cell. Both of them are capable of phagocytosis. However, the myeloid dendritic cell is more involved in antigen-presenting. The lymphoid dendritic cells are represented by the plasmacytoid dendritic cells. They produce and secrete large quantities of type 1 interferons, especially in response to a viral infection.