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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2009 Mar;66(5):831-40. doi: 10.1007/s00018-008-8470-y.

The balance between immunity and tolerance: the role of Langerhans cells.

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Department of Dermatology, School of Medicine, Yale University, 333 Cedar Street, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA.


Langerhans cells are immature skin-homing dendritic cells that furnish the epidermis with an immune surveillance system, and translate information between the internal and external milieu. Dendritic cells, in particular Langerhans cells, are gaining prominence as one of the potential principal players orchestrating the decision between immunity and tolerance. Langerhans cells capture aberrant self-antigen and pathogen-derived antigen for display to the efferent immune response. Recent evidence suggests redundancy in the antigen-presenting function of Langerhans cells, with dermal dendritic subsets capable of fulfilling an analogous role. There is mounting evidence that Langerhans cells can cross-prime T cells to recognize antigens. Langerhans cells are proposed to stimulate T regulatory cells, and are implicated in the pathogenesis of cutaneous T cell lymphoma.The phenotype of Langerhans cells, which may be tolerogenic or immunogenic, appears to depend on their state of maturity, inciting immunogen and cytokine environment, offering the potential for manipulation in immunotherapy.

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