Medical Definition of Dendritic cell

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Dendritic cell: A special type of cell that is a key regulator of the immune system, acting as a professional antigen-presenting cell (APC) capable of activating naïve T cells and stimulating the growth and differentiation of B cells.

Dendritic cells are found, for example, in the lymph nodes and spleen. As an APC, a dendritic cell can retain antigen for long periods on its surface, present the antigen to a T or B cell and so influence their behavior.

The word "dendritic" means "branched like a tree." It comes from the Greek "dendron" (tree).

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Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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