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J Exp Med. 2007 Dec 24;204(13):3119-31. Epub 2007 Dec 17.

The dermis contains langerin+ dendritic cells that develop and function independently of epidermal Langerhans cells.

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  • 1Centre d'Immunologie de Marseille-Luminy, Université de la Méditerrannée, Case 906, 13288 Marseille Cedex 9, France.


Langerhans cells (LCs) constitute a subset of dendritic cells (DCs) that express the lectin langerin and that reside in their immature state in epidermis. Paradoxically, in mice permitting diphtheria toxin (DT)-mediated ablation of LCs, epidermal LCs reappeared with kinetics that lagged behind that of their putative progeny found in lymph nodes (LNs). Using bone marrow (BM) chimeras, we showed that a major fraction of the langerin(+), skin-derived DCs found in LNs originates from a developmental pathway that is independent from that of epidermal LCs. This pathway, the existence of which was unexpected, originates in the dermis and gives rise to langerin(+) dermal DCs (DDCs) that should not be confused with epidermal LCs en route to LNs. It explains that after DT treatment, some langerin(+), skin-derived DCs reappear in LNs long before LC-derived DCs. Using CD45 expression and BrdU-labeling kinetics, both LCs and langerin(+) DDCs were found to coexist in wild-type mice. Moreover, DT-mediated ablation of epidermal LCs opened otherwise filled niches and permitted repopulation of adult noninflammatory epidermis with BM-derived LCs. Our results stress that the langerin(+) DC network is more complex than originally thought and have implications for the development of transcutaneous vaccines and the improvement of humanized mouse models.

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