Langerhans cell: exciting developments in health and disease

D. H. Atmatzidis, W. C. Lambert, M. W. Lambert

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Langerhans cells (LCs) have been the subject of much research since their discovery in 1868. LCs belong to the subset of leucocytes called dendritic cells. They are present in the epidermis and the pilosebaceous apparatus and monitor the cutaneous environment for changes in homeostasis. During embryogenesis, a wave of yolk sac macrophages seed the fetal skin. Then, fetal liver monocytes largely replace the yolk sac macrophages and comprise the majority of adult LCs. In the presence of skin irritation, LCs process antigen and travel to regional lymph nodes to present antigen to reactive T lymphocytes. Changes in LCs' surface markers during the journey occur under the influence of cytokines. The difference in expression of surface markers and the ability to resist radiation have allowed researchers to differentiate LCs from the murine Langerin-positive dermal dendritic cells. Exciting discoveries have been made recently regarding their role in inflammatory skin diseases, cancer and HIV. New research has shown that antibodies blocking CD1a appear to mitigate inflammation in contact hypersensitivity reactions and psoriasis. While it has been established that LCs have the potential to induce effector cells of the adaptive immune system to counter oncogenesis, recent studies have demonstrated that LCs coordinate with natural killer cells to impair development of squamous cell carcinoma caused by chemical carcinogens. However, LCs may also physiologically suppress T cells and permit keratinocyte transformation and tumorigenesis. Although long known to play a primary role in the progression of HIV infection, it is now understood that LCs also possess the ability to restrict the progression of the disease. There is a pressing need to discover more about how these cells affect various aspects of health and disease; new information gathered thus far seems promising and exciting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1817-1824
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes


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