Cross-priming was first recognized in the context of in vivo cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) responses generated against minor histocompatibility antigens induced by immunization with lymphoid cells. Even though the basis for T cell antigen recognition was still largely unclear at that time, these early studies recognized the implication that such minor histocompatibility antigens were derived from the immunizing cells and were obtained exogenously by the host's antigen presenting cells (APCs) that directly prime the CTL response. As antigen recognition by the T cell receptor became understood to involve peptides derived from antigens processed by the APCs and presented by major histocompatibility molecules, the “cross-priming” phenomenon was subsequently recast as “cross-presentation” and the scope considered for examining this process gradually broadened to include many different forms of antigens, including soluble proteins, and different types of APCs that may not be involved in in vivo CTL priming. Many studies of cross-presentation have relied on in vitro cell models that were recently found to differ from in vivo APCs in particular mechanistic details. A recent trend has focused on the APCs and pathways of cross-presentation used in vivo, especially the type 1 dendritic cells. Current efforts are also being directed towards validating the in vivo role of various putative pathways and gene candidates in cross-presentation garnered from various in vitro studies and to determine the relative contributions they make to CTL responses across various forms of antigens and immunologic settings. Thus, cross-presentation appears to be carried by different pathways in various types of cells for different forms under different physiologic settings, which remain to be evaluated in an in vivo physiologic setting.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101711
JournalSeminars in immunology
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • Antigen processing
  • Antigen uptake
  • Cross-presentation
  • Dendritic cells
  • Endosomes


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