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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Nov 27;104(48):19061-6. Epub 2007 Nov 15.

Vaginal epithelial dendritic cells renew from bone marrow precursors.

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Department of Immunobiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


Dendritic cells (DCs) represent key professional antigen-presenting cells capable of initiating primary immune responses. A specialized subset of DCs, the Langerhans cells (LCs), are located in the stratified squamous epithelial layer of the skin and within the mucosal epithelial lining of the vaginal and oral cavities. The vaginal mucosa undergoes cyclic changes under the control of sex hormones, and the renewal characteristics of the vaginal epithelial DCs (VEDCs) remain unknown. Here, we examined the origin of VEDCs. In contrast to the skin epidermal LCs, the DCs in the epithelium of the vagina were found to be repopulated mainly by nonmonocyte bone-marrow-derived precursors, with a half-life of 13 days under steady-state conditions. Upon infection with HSV-2, the Gr-1(hi) monocytes were found to give rise to VEDCs. Furthermore, flow cytometric analysis of the VEDCs revealed the presence of at least three distinct populations, namely, CD11b(+)F4/80(hi), CD11b(+)F4/80(int), and CD11b(-)F4/80(-). Importantly, these VEDC populations expressed CD207 at low levels and had a constitutively more activated phenotype compared with the skin LCs. Collectively, our results revealed mucosa-specific features of the VEDCs with respect to their phenotype, activation status, and homeostatic renewal potential.

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