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J Exp Med. 1998 Mar 16;187(6):961-6.

Transforming growth factor beta1, in the presence of granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor and interleukin 4, induces differentiation of human peripheral blood monocytes into dendritic Langerhans cells.

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Service d'Anatomie Pathologique, Hôpital Necker-Enfants Malades, Paris, France.


Langerhans cells (LCs) are dendritic cells (DCs) that are present in the epidermis, bronchi, and mucosae. Although LCs originate in bone marrow, little is known about their lineage of origin. In this study, we demonstrate that in vitro LCs may originate from monocytes. Adult peripheral blood CD14+ monocytes differentiate into LCs (CD1a+, E-cadherin+, cutaneous lymphocyte-associated antigen+, Birbeck granules+, Lag+) in the presence of granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor, interleukin 4, and transforming growth factor beta1 (TGF-beta1). This process occurs with virtually no cell proliferation and is not impaired by 30 Gy irradiation. Selection of monocyte subpopulations is ruled out since monocyte-derived DCs can further differentiate into LCs. Our data suggest that in vivo LC differentiation may be induced peripherally, from a nonproliferating myeloid precursor, i.e., the monocyte, in response to a TGF-beta1-rich microenvironment, as found in the skin and epithelia. Therefore, the monocyte may represent a circulating precursor critical to the immune response in vivo.

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