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J Invest Dermatol. 1995 Jan;104(1):11-7.

Both dendritic cells and memory T lymphocytes emigrate from organ cultures of human skin and form distinctive dendritic-T-cell conjugates.

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Laboratory of Cellular Physiology and Immunology, Rockefeller University, New York, NY 10021.


Prior studies of mouse skin in organ culture have shown that dendritic cells selectively emigrate from the explants over 1-3 d. This emigration may model the movements of dendritic cells that can occur in situ, as in transplantation and contact sensitivity. In this study, we cultured explants of normal human skin that had been removed with a dermatome. Dendritic cells with characteristic morphology and mixed leukocyte response-stimulatory activity emigrated. The dendritic cells had the expected phenotype, e.g., rich in major histocompatibility complex class II and accessory molecules such as B7-1, intercellular adhesion molecule-1, and leukocyte function-associated antigen-3. Small lymphocytes also were present in the emigrated populations and proved to be T cells exclusively, almost entirely of the TcR alpha beta and memory type (CD45RAweak, CD45RO LFA-3/CD58+), with a CD4:CD8 subset ratio of about 2:1. Some of the T cells were bound tightly to the dendritic cells. These conjugates did not dissociate after exposure to trypsin or to calcium- and magnesium-free medium, or during cytofluorography. This made it possible to sort distinct populations of single dendritic cells, single T cells, and conjugates of the two cell types. Conjugates would continue to form from mixtures of separated dendritic cells and T cells in culture. Therefore, cutaneous dendritic cells and memory T lymphocytes emigrate from human skin explants, and some of these cells form distinctive conjugates that we hypothesize contribute to immunologic recall reactions.

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