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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Mar 3;106(9):3312-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0807126106. Epub 2009 Feb 13.

Murine epidermal Langerhans cells and langerin-expressing dermal dendritic cells are unrelated and exhibit distinct functions.

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  • 1Dermatology Branch, National Cancer Institute, Center for Cancer Research, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


A new langerin(+) DC subset has recently been identified in murine dermis (langerin(+) dDC), but the lineage and functional relationships between these cells and langerin(+) epidermal Langerhans cells (LC) are incompletely characterized. Selective expression of the cell adhesion molecule EpCAM by LC allowed viable LC to be easily distinguished from langerin(+) dDC in skin and lymphoid tissue and ex vivo as well. Differential expression of EpCAM and langerin revealed the presence of at least 3 distinct skin DC subsets. We determined that LC and langerin(+) dDC exhibit different migratory capabilities in vitro and repopulate distinct anatomic compartments in skin at different rates after conditional depletion in vivo. Langerin(+) dDC, in contrast to LC, did not require TGFbeta1 for development. Carefully timed gene gun immunization studies designed to take advantage of the distinct repopulation kinetics of langerin(+) dDC and LC revealed that langerin(+) dDC were required for optimal production of beta-galactosidase-specific IgG2a/c and IgG2b in the acute phase. In contrast, immunization via LC-deficient skin resulted in persistent and strikingly reduced IgG1 and enhanced IgG2a Ab production. Our data support the concepts that LC and langerin(+) dDC represent distinct DC subsets that have specialized functions and that LC are important immunoregulatory cells. The presence of at least 3 functionally distinct skin DC subsets may have particular relevance for vaccines that are administered epicutaneously.

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