The repopulation of murine Langerhans cells after depletion by mild heat injury

M. Ghaznawie, John Papadimitriou, P.J. Heenan

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We have developed a model of focal Langerhans cell depletion by mild heat injury and used it to investigate the mechanisms of Langerhans cell repopulation in the injured epidermis, The possibility whether repopulation occurred by recruitment of precursor cells from the circulation or dermis or, alternatively, by migration from the surrounding normal epidermis into the injured area was considered. Repopulation was studied by evaluating the pattern of Langerhans cell reappearance and calculating the rate of change in the density. Heat injury followed by whole-body irradiation with shielding of the injured skin was used to assess repopulation in the absence of bone marrow precursors. Using tritiated thymidine autoradiography, we also investigated whether the newly arrived Langerhans cells (be they from circulating precursors or surrounding normal epidermis) actually divide. The results showed that heat injury completely eliminated the Langerhans cells within the area delineated by the injury, Two hours after injury, the Langerhans cells were fragmented and 2 days later, they could not be detected, Regeneration of the epidermis occurred 2 days after injury and Langerhans cells reappeared scattered somewhat sparsely in the centre of the lesion on day 3. These cells were small and slender, bearing one or two short dendrites. As the dendrites increased in number and in length, the cells became similar morphologically and phenotypically to normal Langerhans cells. The rate of repopulation increased dramatically between days 5 and 7 and reached normal density on day 11, The pattern of Langerhans cell repopulation in the injured area and the lack of repopulation in the irradiated animals indicated that repopulation occurs by immigration of precursors from the circulation or dermis, There was no indication of migration of Langerhans cells from surrounding normal epidermis, Lastly, the newly arrived Langerhans cells failed to divide at the site of injury.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)206-210
JournalBritish Journal of Dermatology
Issue numberN/A
Publication statusPublished - 1999


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