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J Cell Biol. 2005 May 23;169(4):569-76. Epub 2005 May 16.

Inducible ablation of mouse Langerhans cells diminishes but fails to abrogate contact hypersensitivity.

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Department of Cell Biology and Histology, Academic Medical Center (AMC), University of Amsterdam, 1105 AZ Amsterdam, Netherlands.


Langerhans cells (LC) form a unique subset of dendritic cells (DC) in the epidermis but so far their in vivo functions in skin immunity and tolerance could not be determined, in particular in relation to dermal DC (dDC). Here, we exploit a novel diphtheria toxin (DT) receptor (DTR)/DT-based system to achieve inducible ablation of LC without affecting the skin environment. Within 24 h after intra-peritoneal injection of DT into Langerin-DTR mice LC are completely depleted from the epidermis and only begin to return 4 wk later. LC deletion occurs by apoptosis in the absence of inflammation and, in particular, the dDC compartment is not affected. In LC-depleted mice contact hypersensitivity (CHS) responses are significantly decreased, although ear swelling still occurs indicating that dDC can mediate CHS when necessary. Our results establish Langerin-DTR mice as a unique tool to study LC function in the steady state and to explore their relative importance compared with dDC in orchestrating skin immunity and tolerance.

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