, Volume 401, Issue 1, pp 45-55

Lymphocytes and Langerhans cells in the human oesophageal epithelium

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Using monoclonal antibodies on fresh frozen endoscopically obtained oesophageal biopsies the distribution of Langerhans cells, B lymphocytes, and various subpopulations of T lymphocytes was studied in the normal human oesophageal mucosa and in oesophagitis.

Identification of the lymphocytes was carried out by an immunoperoxidase technique using OKT3 (antihuman T cell antibody), OKT4 (antihuman helper T cell antibody), OKT8 (antihuman cytotoxic T cell) and OKT10 (antihuman null cell antibody). Identification of the Langerhans cells was carried out using an ATPase stain and OKIa (Ia like antigen) and OKT6 (antihuman thymocyte).

In the normal oesophageal epithelium cytotoxic T lymphocytes are found as well as Ia positive Langerhans cells. Helper T lymphocytes and B lymphocytes are present mainly in the lamina propria. In oesophagitis an increase in Langerhans cells and cytotoxic T lymphocytes within the epithelium is found. From these findings it can be concluded that the oesophagus contains a reticuloepithelial system as well as a lymphocytic population which are a part of the gut-associated lymphoid tissue.