Archives of Dermatological Research

, Volume 280, Issue 4, pp 220–227 | Cite as

Epidermal Langerhans cells, dermal dendritic cells, and keratinocytes in viral lesions of skin and mucous membranes: an immunohistochemical study

  • M. Drijkoningen
  • C. De Wolf-Peeters
  • H. Degreef
  • V. Desmet
Original Contributions


We wanted to evaluate the eventual expression of viral antigens and MHC class II products by keratinocytes as well as the alterations of epidermal Langerhans cells and dermal dendritic cells in viral lesions of skin and mucous membranes. Therefore we investigated 68 biopsy specimens of protracted viral lesions, such as warts, condylomas, and mollusca contagiosa, and of rapidly resolving viral lesions such as herpes simplex virus infection. For this we used immunohistochemical staining techniques and several monoclonal and polyclonal antisera. In most cases investigated viral antigens (human papilloma virus antigens or herpes simplex virus type 1 antigens) could be demonstrated in keratinocytic nuclei. Except for a few viral lesions in which epidermal Langerhans cells were rather numerous, epidermal Langerhans cells were reduced in number or absent in almost all viral lesions. Moreover, epidermal Langerhans cells and dermal dendritic cells showed changes in morphology, distribution, and immunophenotype. These alterations may be caused by a toxic effect of the virus on dendritic cells. HLA-DR+ keratinocytes could be identified in few viral lesions onlyl HLA-DQ+ keratinocytes were not seen. Possible explanations for this lack of MHC class II expression by keratinocytes are discussed.

Key words

Herpes virus infections Warts Condylomata accuminata Molluscum contagiosum Langerhans cells 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Drijkoningen
    • 1
  • C. De Wolf-Peeters
    • 1
  • H. Degreef
    • 2
  • V. Desmet
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PathologyUniversity Hospital St. Rafaël, K. U. LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  2. 2.Department of DermatologyUniversity Hospital St. Rafaël, K. U. LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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