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J Invest Dermatol. 2004 Nov;123(5):876-9.

Macrophages and dendritic cells constitute a major subpopulation of cells in the mouse dermis.

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Department of Immunology, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


Macrophages and dendritic cells (DC) in tissues with close contact to the environment are of essential importance in host defense and are therefore present in sizeable numbers. Therefore, it is surprising that mononuclear phagocyte populations of the dermis have rarely been investigated in a quantitative manner. In this study, we examined mouse dermal skin immunophenotypically and related the observed numbers of observed cells to the total number of nucleated cells. These analyses show that about 70% of all dermal cells represent CD45+ leukocytes. The vast majority of these cells (approximately 60% of total) expresses the mononuclear phagocyte markers mMGL (ER-MP23), F4/80 and CD11b. In addition, these cells show avid phagocytic capacity and thus are identified as dermal macrophages. Different subpopulations can be defined using markers such as sialoadhesin, ER-HR3 and mSIGN-R1 (ER-TR9). Interestingly, MHC class II expression differs significantly between dermal cells from ear versus back skin. Moreover, we have identified small populations of dermal DC and migrating Langerhans cells (together approximately 10% of total). In summary, our findings show that mononuclear phagocyte populations form the majority of dermal cells and thus have been clearly underestimated so far.

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