Scientists at Melbourne University in Australia have discovered that certain skin cells, called dendritic cells, can recognize viruses and respond right away, a finding which could improve treatment of viral skin infections.
The findings describe the function of the cells that trigger the initial immune response to viral infection, known as dendritic cells.
“Dendritic cells are like police patrolling our blood and tissues for anything unusual. There are many different types of them, so we wanted to examine how they differ in their function,” said Dr Sammy Bedoui of Melbourne University, who led an international team.
According to them, the work identifies previously unrecognized first-line defence mechanisms important in barrier locations such as the skin and the gut, often used as portals of entry by viruses.
Using an animal model of skin infection with the cold sore virus, the scientists examined two aspects of anti-viral immune responses by studying the cells involved in the initial stimulation of the immune response, and cells that remember past infections to boost the response after reinfection.