The meaning and value of citation linkages between scholarly works has been a topic of great interest and debate for many years (1). In this feature we ask the author of a recently published article what motivated them to cite a key reference.

Dr. Teunis B.H. Geijtenbeek heads up the Host-Pathogen Interactions workgroup within the Molecular Cell Biology & Immunology department at the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. His current research focus is investigation into the molecular mechanisms by which human Langerhans cells, present in the skin and genital tract linings, interact with HIV-1, and how these interactions subsequently direct immune responses.

Dr. Geijtenbeek has recently published a paper (2) showing that Langerhans cells capture and degrade infecting HIV-1, so forming a natural barrier. This knowledge is critical to the development of a treatment to combat HIV-1, since Langerhans cell function must be at least preserved, or enhanced. In this paper, Dr. Geijtenbeek has cited a 2004 paper published in Blood (3), and he explains why: “This article very nicely demonstrates that there are two distinct mechanisms by which HIV can be transmitted to T-cells, with the mechanisms being important at different phases of infection. This has clarified several other reports which argued for either one or the other.”


(1) Bornmann & Daniel (2007) “What do citation counts measure? A review of studies on citing behavior”, Journal of Documentation (in press).
(2) de Witte et al. (2007) “Langerin is a natural barrier to HIV-1 transmission by Langerhans cells”, Nature Medicine, Vol. 13, No. 3, pp. 367-371.
(3) Turville et al. (2004) “Immunodeficiency virus uptake, turnover and 2-phase transfer in human dendritic cells”, Blood, Vol. 103, No. 6, pp. 2170–2179.
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