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Histopathology. 1999 May;34(5):399-404.

Reduced number of Langerhans cells in oesophageal mucosa from AIDS patients.

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Service d'Anatomie Pathologique, Groupe Hospitalier Bichat-Claude Bernard, Paris, France.



The oesophageal mucosa is a frequent target of opportunistic infections in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Langerhans cells (LC) are known as a target and reservoir of HIV in the skin. The aim of this study was to characterize oesophageal LC in HIV-infected patients.


Thirty oesophageal biopsies were obtained from 29 patients (median age 35.5), all in stage IV of the HIV Center of Disease Control Classification. We performed histological assessment of the oesophageal mucosa and immunohistochemical detection of oesophageal LC using an anti-CD1a antibody, followed by morphometric analysis. Biopsies from 17 noninfected patients were studied using the same procedure. LC in oesophageal mucosa of the HIV positive patients showed a significantly and dramatically decreased number (LC(N) median = 5.85/mm2) and surface/epithelial surface (LC (S) ratio = 0.09) when compared with HIV-negative controls (LC(N) median = 29.7/mm2, LC(S) ratio = 1.83) with P = 0.003 for LC(N) and P < 0.0001 for LC(S).


These data suggest that oesophageal LC are, like their epidermal counterparts, a preferential target for HIV infection. Their alterations may provide a clue to the pathogenesis of the decreased local oesophageal immunity and to the occurrence of opportunistic infections.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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