T cell-dendritic cell interaction in vivo: random encounters favor development of long-lasting ties.
Understanding the complexity of the functional communication between cells composing the immune system is central to improving our capacity to manipulate it and conceive better strategies to combat microbial pathogens. So far, these studies have been based on immunohistochemistry of fixed tissues and in vitro attempts to reproduce functional connections between cells. The application of two-photon laser microscopy to the observation of viable immune cells in their natural environment where foreign antigens are carried to trigger an immune response opens a new era for these studies. They reveal exceptional properties of the locomotion of T cells that facilitate encounters with dendritic cells and the receipt of information that promotes T cell survival, death, or initiation of immune responses. These studies also complement in vitro observations addressing the importance of time of stimulation in determining T cell fates.