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J Invest Dermatol. 1981 Mar;76(3):202-10.

Ultraviolet light depletes surface markers of Langerhans cells.


This report defines the influence of ultraviolet light (UV) on Langerhans cells (LC). Human volunteers and hairless mice (Swiss ha/ha) were exposed to various single and/or cumulative doses of either UV-A, UV-B, or UV-A plus small amounts of UV-B (UV-A (+B)). 24 hr after the last irradiation, morphology of the entire epidermis was evaluated by both light and electron microscopy while LC, in addition, were tested for expression of specific histochemical (ATPase) and functional immunological markers (Ia antigens). In both men and mice, cumulative doses of either 80-120 J/cm2 UV-A (+B) or 1-2 X 100 J/cm2 UV-A resulted in a dramatic reduction of cells exhibiting ATPase and Ia-reactivity. In the UV-B spectrum, single doses of 60-80 mJ/cm2 produced a virtually complete elimination of LC membrane markers. By contrast, pemphigus antigens of keratinocytes were unaffected by these energy doses. Electron microscopy revealed cellular damage of some LC after UV-doses which produce a virtually complete abolition of LC membrane markers. At certain dose ranges (15-30 mJ/cm2 UV-B and 1 x 40 to 2 x 100 J/cm2 UV-A) LC were the only epidermal cells to display morphological damage at the ultrastructural level whereas higher doses affected all epidermal cells. The finding that LC surface markers and to a lesser extent the cells themselves are particularly susceptible to UV irradiation has important implications in view of previous findings that LC are potent stimulators of antigen-specific and allogeneic T cell activation. UV-induced alteration of LC plasma membrane integrity may represent a tool to manipulate adverse immune reactions involving the epidermis.

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