Epidermal Dendritic Cells in Aged C57BL/6 J MICE

  • Eli Sprecher
  • Leonard D. Shultz
  • Yechiel Becker
Part of the Developments in Medical Virology book series (DIMV, volume 7)


Aging is known to affect the immune function and structural integrity of the skin. The density and function of epidermal dendritic cell (DC) populations was investigated in old mice. Langerhans cell (LC) and Thy-1+ dendritic epidermal cell (Thy-1+DEC) density was found to decrease with age. This decrease correlated with an impairment in epidermal cell function as assessed in vitro by the skin-lymphocyte reaction assay and by measuring the ability of epidermal cell suspensions to stimulate the proliferation of sensitized T cells in the presence of the sensitizing antigen. However, the ability of LC to transport antigens from the skin to the draining lymph nodes was found in vivo to be normal in old mice as compared with young mice. Normal numbers of interdigitating dendritic cells (IDC) were recovered from the lymph nodes of old mice. Bone marrow from old and young donors was transplanted into young irradiated recipients. Results from these experiments indicated that low LC density in the skin of old mice probably results from impaired capacity of LC progenitor cells in the bone marrow of old mice to home into and repopulate the epidermis. Studies with herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) showed that old mice were markedly more susceptible to HSV-1 infection by the intraperitoneal or footpad routes of inoculation as compared with young mice. Systemic administration of thymosin α1 to old mice partially protected them from a lethal challenge with the virus. The higher suceptibility of old mice to HSV-1 infection was correlated with an impaired capacity to mobilize immune cells in the draining lymph nodes and with the absence, in old mice, of an increase in LC numbers following infection, which is usually seen in young mice, infected with HSV-1. In contrast, a normal increase in the numbers of IDC in the draining lymph nodes was observed in old mice. Systemic administration of thymosin α1 to old mice partially restores their ability to mobilize immune cells in the draining lymph nodes.


Drain Lymph Node Young Mouse Primary Immunodeficiency Disease Epidermal Sheet Tris Maleate Buffer 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eli Sprecher
    • 1
  • Leonard D. Shultz
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yechiel Becker
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Molecular Virology, Faculty of MedicineHebrew UniversityJerusalemIsrael
  2. 2.The Jackson LaboratoryBar HarborUSA

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