Immunology and Cell Biology (2013) 91, 240–249; doi:10.1038/icb.2012.73; published online 8 January 2013

Intestinal DC in migrational imprinting of immune cells

Angus Stock1, Giorgio Napolitani2 and Vincenzo Cerundolo2

  1. 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2MRC Human Immunology Unit, the Radcliffe Department of Medicine, MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

Correspondence: Dr A Stock, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia. E-mail:

Received 21 October 2012; Revised 19 November 2012; Accepted 20 November 2012
Advance online publication 8 January 2013



Dendritic cells (DCs) have a pivotal role in instructing antigen-specific immune responses, processing and presenting antigens to CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and producing factors capable to modulate the quality of T-cell responses. In this review, we will provide an historic overview on the identification of the mechanisms controlling lymphocyte migration into the largest immune organ of the body: the gut, and we will describe how in recent years an unexpected role for DCs has emerged as the architects in programming gut-homing immune cells. Specifically, we will review how intestinal DCs utilize the dietary vitamin A metabolite retinoic acid (RA) to program gut-homing lymphocytes and how intestinal DCs acquire the unique capacity to become RA producers.


dendritic cells; intestine; migration; T cells