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Eur J Immunol. 1993 Feb;23(2):376-82.

Dissection of human Langerhans cells' allostimulatory function: the need for an activation step for full development of accessory function.

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INSERM U346, Clinique Dermatologique, Lyon, France.


In the present study, we analyzed the mechanism by which human Langerhans cells (LC), the dendritic cells (DC) from epidermis, support the induction of a primary allogeneic T cell response. We reported that paraformaldehyde (PF) fixation completely abrogated the stimulatory property of freshly isolated LC, although the level of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II antigen (Ag) expression was unaltered by the fixative. Addition of either interleukin (IL)-1 beta and/or IL-6, during the mixed epidermal cell lymphocyte reaction, failed to restore the proliferative response. By contrast, when human LC were incubated for 3 days in culture medium before fixation, they retained a low but significant allostimulatory capacity. Trypsin treatment of incubated LC before fixation did not impair their function, suggesting that stimulatory activity by fixed incubated LC did not merely reflect a repair of LC membrane after trypsin trauma suffered during epidermal cell (EC) isolation. More interestingly, we found that addition of interferon-gamma during LC incubation mediated an enhanced allostimulatory activity by the PF-fixed LC. Acquisition of allostimulatory property by in vitro activated and fixed LC did not correlate with increased MHC class II Ag expression at the cell surface. By contrast, we showed that ICAM-1 Ag expression by human LC is involved in this maturation process. Finally, we found that once human LC have been activated, IL-1 beta, but not IL-6, could serve as a costimulatory factor in the primary allogeneic T cell response. In conclusion, the data suggest that human LC accessory function is not constitutive but requires an activation step which can be provided by interferon-gamma during LC-T cell interaction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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