Purpose of review: Dendritic cells and their subsets are among the very first immune cells to tackle incoming pathogens and initiate innate and adaptive immune responses. During the past year, some studies investigating the early events occurring at mucosal sites, upon HIV infection, reinforced our view that the virus has evolved subtle strategies to hijack key cellular components in dendritic cells, thus leading to viral acquisition and dissemination while dampening or delaying antiviral responses.
Recent findings: In this review, we will detail recent research aimed at investigating the involvement of different dendritic cell subtypes on HIV transmission at mucosal sites, the events and cellular factors in dendritic cell guiding HIV trafficking, and polarization at the virological synapse. Furthermore, we will link some of these basic findings with current and novel therapeutic and prophylactic strategies targeting the early events of mucosal HIV transmission.
Summary: It is becoming evident that a better characterization of the early events of HIV transmission and the involvement of dendritic cell subtypes in this process would contribute to strengthen our efforts to improve the current therapeutic and prophylactic strategies.