Dendritic cells (DCs) are professional antigen presenting cells (APCs) capable of linking innate and adaptive immunity during infection. After recognition of pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs), DCs can engulf, process and present bacteria-derived antigens on MHC molecules
to T cells. Because of the key role that DCs play on the initiation of innate and adaptive immunity, alterations in their function could render the host susceptible to bacterial dissemination. Consistent with this notion, is the observation that several pathogenic bacteria have evolved mechanisms
to impair the DC capacity to prime naive T cells. One of such bacteria is Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, which causes a typhoid-like disease in mice and gastroenteritis in humans. Recent studies have shown that virulent Salmonella can use intestinal DCs to spread inside the host,
evading T cell priming. The avoidance of T cell recognition by Salmonella is in large part achieved by the activity of gene products encoded on Salmonella Pathogenicity Islands -1 and - 2. The understanding of some of the remarkable molecular virulence mechanisms displayed by Salmonella has
contributed to the design of new vaccines capable of inducing protective immunity against this pathogen in mouse models. Here we describe recent data underscoring the virulence mechanisms used by Salmonella to exploit DC function and discuss strategies based on this new knowledge aimed at
the design of new efficient and safe vaccines against this pathogen.
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