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Am J Surg Pathol. 2012 Aug;36(8):1150-7. doi: 10.1097/PAS.0b013e31825b9914.

Use of the JL1 epitope, which encompasses the nonglycosylation site of CD43, as a marker of immature/neoplastic Langerhans cells.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Seongnam, Korea.


Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH) is the collective designation for a group of proliferative disorders of antigen-presenting cells in the epidermis. Over the past several decades, the etiology of LCH has been a controversial issue, particularly with respect to the pathologic process, that is, whether it is a neoplastic or inflammatory process. Recently, it was reported that the JL1 epitope, which encompasses the nonglycosylation site of CD43, is only exposed in the precursor stages of hematopoietic cells or in neoplastic conditions. We sought to investigate the possible utility of the JL1 monoclonal antibody as a diagnostic marker of LCH. In this study, we compared the staining characteristics of antibodies against the JL1 epitope with those of langerin and CD1a, which are widely used for the diagnosis of LCH. We found substantial differences in the staining patterns of these markers. The JL1 epitope could be bound by antibodies in cases of LCH and Langerhans cell (LC) sarcoma. In non-neoplastic lesions, JL1-positive LCs were found only in dermatitis, reflecting the immaturity of LCs in inflamed skin. However, anti-langerin antibodies were able to identify any form of LC, including those in normal skin, dermatitis, dermatopathic lymphadenopathy, and LCH. On the basis of these findings, we propose that the anti-JL1 antibody is a specific marker of immaturity, a feature that is shared in neoplastic LCs, and can be useful in the diagnosis of LCH.

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