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Lab Invest. 1993 Aug;69(2):160-72.

Novel interactions between dermal dendrocytes and mast cells in human skin. Implications for hemostasis and matrix repair.

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Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia.



Dermal dendrocytes are a newly-recognized cell type in human skin. They express coagulation Factor XIIIa (FXIIIa), also known as fibrin stabilizing factor, and their number is increased in certain inflammatory dermatoses. Current dogma suggests that these recently described cells may represent a subset of antigen-presenting macrophages. The present study therefore was undertaken to examine further the phenotype and potential function of these novel cells.


Conventional ultrastructure, single and dual label immunofluorescence and immunocytochemistry, confocal laser scanning microscopy, and immunoelectron microscopy were used to define structure and potential heterogeneity among dermal dendrocytes. Human neonatal foreskin organ culture exposed to mast cell secretagogues, inhibitors, and relevant recombinant cytokines (tumor necrosis factors alpha) was employed to gain insight into functional characteristics of FXIIIa expression.


We found that dermal dendrocytes are phenotypically unique dermal cells, separate from conventional macrophages, with antigenic heterogeneity of FXIIIa and CD34 expression related to their microanatomical location in the dermis. Moreover, they express specialized membrane-matrix plaques that may stabilize their placement in various dermal strata. Finally, superficial subpopulations of dermal dendrocytes are closely-associated with mast cells and show enhanced FXIIIa expression in response to mast cell degranulation, an event that appears to result from liberation of mast cell tumor necrosis factor in the dendrocyte microenvironment.


These new insights establish dermal dendrocytes as distinctive fixed skin cells with potential functional capacity for mast cell-dependent facilitation of fibrin cross-linking and matrix remodeling. These previously unrecognized phenotypic and functional characteristics of dermal dendrocytes therefore may be relevant to cellular interactions responsible for cutaneous wound healing and hemostasis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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