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J Comp Neurol. 1999 Mar 22;405(4):553-62.

Distribution and phenotype of dendritic cells and resident tissue macrophages in the dura mater, leptomeninges, and choroid plexus of the rat brain as demonstrated in wholemount preparations.

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Department of Anatomy and Human Biology, University of Western Australia, Nedlands.


Dendritic cells (DC) are regarded as the 'sentinels' of the immune system. They play a crucial role in surveillance of peripheral tissues, trapping antigens encountered there, and migrating via the lymphatics to lymphoid organs where they interact with naive T cells thus generating antigen-specific primary immune responses. Until now it has been assumed DC are largely absent from the brain, meninges, and the choroid plexus within the ventricles. Such a situation was thought to partly explain the 'immune privileged' nature of the central nervous system (CNS). The present study of normal rat tissues using single and double immunohistochemistry reveals for the first time that extensive networks of major histocompatability (MHC) class II+/OX62+ DC are widely distributed in sites which may potentially encounter CNS antigens. These sites included the dura mater, leptomeninges, and the choroid plexus. These putative DC were negative when stained with the anti-resident tissue macrophage monoclonal antibody ED2. In addition to the rich networks of DC, dense populations of resident tissue macrophages (ED2+ and ED1+) were also demonstrated in the dura mater, leptomeninges and to a lesser extent in the choroid plexus. The presence of rich networks of DC and macrophages in the vascular and supporting tissues of the brain may play an important role in inflammatory and immune-mediated disorders affecting the CNS, including auto-immune demyelinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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