Role of Langerhans Cells in Cutaneous Immunological Reactions

  • Rudolf L. Baer
  • Brian Berman
Part of the Comprehensive Immunology book series (COMIMUN, volume 7)


The origin and function of Langerhans cells (LC) have been a matter of conjecture and theory ever since their discovery by Paul Langerhans in 1868. For many decades, attempts were made to fit the dendritic LCs into one of two already established systems of dendritic cells. One group of authors favored Langerhans’ suggestion that the dendritic “clear cells” he had discovered in the epidermis are neural in nature (Ferreira-Marques, 1951; Wiedmann, 1952; Niebauer, 1956; Richter, 1956), while the other group (Billingham and Medawar, 1953; Fan and Hunter, 1958; Fan et al., 1959) followed Masson’s view (1951) that these cells are worn out, i.e., “effete,” melanocytes.


Mycosis Fungoides Contact Allergy Acta Derm Pityriasis Rosea Light Microscopic Section 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Baer, R. L., 1976, Die Rolle der Langerhans-Zellen bei der Kontaktallergie, Hautarzt 27: 554–558.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Baer, R. L., Rosenthal, S. A., and Sims, C. F., 1957, The allergic eczema-like reaction and the primary irritant reaction: A histologic comparison of their evolution in the acanthotic skin of guinea pigs, Arch. Dermatol. 76: 549–560.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Basset, F., and Nezelof, C., 1969, L’Histiocytose X. Microscopie electronique. Culture “in vitro” et histo-enzymologie. Discussion a propos de 21 cas, Rev. Fr. Etud. Clin. Biol. 14: 31.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Bennett, J. M., 1977, Correlations of morphology, cytochemistry and therapy, in: Classification of Acute Leukemia, pp. 743–746 (Gralnick, H. R., moderator), Ann. Intern. Med. 87: 740–753.Google Scholar
  5. Bergstresser, P. R., Toews, G. B., Gilliam, J. N., and Streilein, J. W., 1980, Unusual numbers and distribution of Langerhans cells in skin with unique immunologic properties, J. Invest. Dermatol. 74: 312–313.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Berman, B., and France, D. S., 1979, Histochemical analysis of Langerhans cells, Am. J. Dermatopathol. 1: 215–221.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Berman, B., and France, D. S., 1980, Establishment of a continuous cell line retaining Langerhans cell characteristics, J. Invest. Dermatol. 74: 323–327.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Berman, B., and Gigli, I., 1980, Complement receptors on guinea pig epidermal Langerhans cells, J. Immunol. 124: 685–690.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Billingham, R. E., and Medawar, P. B., 1953, A study of the branched cells of mammalian epidermis with special reference to the fate of their division products, Tr. R. Soc. London Ser. B. 237: 151–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Billingham, R. E., and Silvers, W. K., 1965, Some unsolved problems in the biology of skin, in: Biology of the Skin and Hair Growth ( Lyne and Short, eds.), pp. 1–24, Angus & Robertson, Sydney.Google Scholar
  11. Birbeck, M. S., Breathnach, A. S., and Everall, J. D., 1961, An electron microscopic study of basal melanocyte and high level clear cell (Langerhans cell) in vitiligo, J. Invest. Dermatol. 37: 51–63.Google Scholar
  12. Breathnach, A. S., Birbeck, M. S. C., and Everall, J. D., 1963, Observations bearing on the relationship between Langerhans cells and melanocytes, Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 100: 223–238.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Cruikshank, C. N. D., and Cooper, J. R., 1975, Langerhans cells in tissue cultures of guinea pig epidermal cells, Br. J. Dermatol. 97: 121–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Falck, B., Agrup, G., Jacobsson, S., Rorsman, H., Rosengren, E., Sachner, K., and Ogren, M., 1976, Uptake of L-dopa and functionally related aromatic amino-acids and the Langerhans cell, J. Invest. Dermatol. 66: 265.Google Scholar
  15. Fan, J., and Hunter, R., 1958, Langerhans cells and the modified technic of gold impregnation by Ferreira-Marques, J. Invest. Dermatol. 31: 115–121.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Fan, J., Schoenfeld, R. J., and Hunter, R., 1959, A study of the epidermal clear cells with special reference to their relationship to the cells of Langerhans, J. Invest. Dermatol. 32: 445–449.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ferreira-Marques, J., 1951, Systema sensitivum intra-epidermicum. Die Langerhansschen Zellen als Receptoren des hellen Schmerzes. Doloriceptores, Arch. Dermatol. Syph. 193: 191–250.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Fritsch, P., Diem, E., and Hönigsmann, I-I., 1973, Langerhans cells in cell culture. Survival and identification, Archiv. Dermatol. Forsch. 248: 123–136.Google Scholar
  19. Golde, D. W., and Cline, M. J., 1974, Regulation of granulopoiesis, N. Engl. J. Med. 291: 1388–1395.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Goos, M., Kaiserling, E., and Lennert, K., 1976, Mycosis fungoides: Model for T lymphocyte homing in skin? Br. J. Dermatol. 94: 221–226.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Goudie, R. B., MacFarlane, P. S., and Lindsay, M. K., 1974, Homing of lymphocytes to non-lymphoid tissues, Lancet 1: 292–293.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hammerling, G. J., Mauve, G., Goldberg, E., and McDevitt, H. O., 1975, Tissue distribution of la antigens—la on spermatozoa, macrophages, and epidermal cells, Immunogenetics 1: 428–437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hashimoto, K., and Tarnowski, W. M., 1968, Some new aspects of the Langerhans cell, Arch. Dermatol. 97: 450–464.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hunter, J. A. A., Fairley, D. J., Priestley, G. C., and Cubie,H. A., 1976, Langerhans cells in the epidermis of athymic mice, Br. J. Dermatol. 94: 119–122.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Juhlin, L., and Shelley, W. B., 1977, New staining techniques for the Langerhans cell, Acta Derm. Venereol. 57: 289–296.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Kelly, R. H., Balfour, B. M., and Armstrong, J. A., 1976, Lymph-borne Langerhans cells, Am. J. Pathol. 82:Abstract No. 114.Google Scholar
  27. Klareskog, L., Tijernlunde, U. M., Forsum, U., and Peterson, P. A., 1977, Epidermal Langerhans cells express la antigens, Nature (London) 268: 248–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Langerhans, P., 1868, Ueber die Nerven der menschlichen Haut, Virchows Arch. Pathol. Anat. Physiol. 44: 325–337.Google Scholar
  29. Lessard, R., Wolff, K., and Winkelmann, R. K., 1968, The disappearance and regeneration of Langerhans cells following epidermal injury, J. Invest. Dermatol. 50: 171–179.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Lyampert, I. M., Beletskaya, L. V., Borodiuk, N. A., Gnezditskaya, E. V., Rassokhin, I. I., and Danilova, T. A., 1976, A cross-reactive antigen of thymus and skin epithelial cells common with the polysaccharide of group A streptococci, Immunology 31: 47–55.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Mackenzie, I. C., 1975, Ordered structure of the epidermis, J. Invest. Dermatol. 65: 45–51.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mackie, R., Sless, F. R., Cochran, R., and De Sousa, M., 1976, Lymphocyte abnormalities in mycosis fungoides, Br. J. Dermatol. 94: 173–178.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Masson, P., 1951, My conception of cellular nevi, Cancer 4: 9–38.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Nezelof, C., Basset, F., and Rousseau, M. F., 1973, Histiocytosis X: Arguments for a Langerhans cell origin, Biomedicine 18: 365–371.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Nezelof, C., Diebold, N., and Rousseau-Merck, M. F., 1977, Ig surface receptors and erythrophagocytic activity of histiocytosis X cells in vitro, J. Pathol. 122: 105113.Google Scholar
  36. Niebauer, G., 1956, Über die interstitiellen Zellen der Haut, Hautarzt 7: 123–126.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Nordquist, R. E., Olson, R. I., and Everett, M. A., 1966, The transport, uptake and storage of ferritin in human epidermis, Arch. Dermatol. 94: 482–490.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Nordqvist, B., and Kinney, J., 1976, T and B cells and cell-mediated immunity in mycosis fungoides, Cancer 37: 714–718.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Peterson, P. A., Rask, L., and Ostberg, L., 1977,132- Microglobulin and the major histocompatibility complex, Adv. Cancer Res. 24: 115–163.Google Scholar
  40. Pinkus, H., and Mehregan, A. H., 1976, Eczematous Tissue Reactions, in: A Guide to Dermatohistopathology, 2nd ed. p. 111, Appleton-Century-Crofts, New York.Google Scholar
  41. Potten, C. S., 1975, Epidermal cell production rates, J. Invest. Dermatol. 65: 488–500.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rabinovitch, M., 1967, “Nonprofessional” and “professional” phagocytosis: Particle uptake by L cells and by macrophages, J. Cell Biol. 35:108A–109A.Google Scholar
  43. Rabinovitch, M., 1970, in: Mononuclear Phagocytes (R. van Furth, ed.), pp. 299–315, F. A. Davis, Philadelphia.Google Scholar
  44. Rausch, E., Kaiserling, E., and Goos, M., 1977, Langerhans cells and interdigitating reticulum cells in the thymus-dependent region in human dermatopathic lymphadenitis, Virchows Archiv B 25: 327–343.Google Scholar
  45. Richter, R., 1956, Studien zur Neurohistologie der nervo-sen vegetativen Peripherie der Haut bei verschiedenen chronisch-infektiösen Granulomen, mit besonderer Beriicksichtigung der Langerhansschen Zellen, Arch. Klin. Exp. Dermatol. 202: 466–555.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Rowden, G., and Lewis, M. G., 1976, Langerhans cells: Involvement in the pathogenesis of mycosis fungoides, Br. J. Dermatol. 95: 665–672.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Rowden, G., Lewis, M. G., and Sullivan, A. K., 1977, la antigen expression on human epidermal Langerhans cells, Nature (London) 268: 247–248.Google Scholar
  48. Rowden, G., Phillips, T. M., and Lewis, M. G., 1979, la antigens on indeterminate cells of the epidermis: Immunoelectronmicroscopic studies of surface antigens, Br. J. Dermatol. 100: 531–542.Google Scholar
  49. Sagebiel, R. W., 1972, In vivo and in vitro uptake of ferri-tin by Langerhans cells of the epidermis, J. Invest. Dermatol. 58: 47–54.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Schnitzler, L., Verret, J. L., Schubert, B., and Picard, M. D., 1975, Langerhans cells in actinic reticuloid, J. Cut. Pathol. 2: 170–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Shelley, W. B., and Juhlin, L., 1976, Langerhans cells form a reticuloepithelial trap for external contact allergens, Nature (London) 261: 46–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Shreffler, D. C., and David, C. S., 1975, The H-2 major histocompatibility complex and the I immune region: Genetic variation, function and organization, Adv. Immunol. 20: 125–195.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Silberberg, 1., 1971a, Studies by electron microscopy of epidermis after topical application of mercuric chloride. Morphologic and histochemical findings in epidermal cells of human subjects who do not show allergic sensitivity or primary irritant reactions to mercuric chloride (0.1%), J. Invest. Dermatol. 56: 147–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Silberberg, I., 1971b, Ultrastructural studies of Langerhans cells in contact sensitive and primary irritant reactions to mercuric chloride, Clin. Res. 19: 715.Google Scholar
  55. Silberberg, I., 1973, Apposition of mononuclear cells to Langerhans cells in contact allergic reactions. An ultrastructural study, Acta Derm. Venereol. 53: 1–12.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. Silberberg, I., Prutkin, L., and Leider, M., 1969, Electron microscopic studies of transepidermal absorption of mercury. Histochemical methods of demonstration of electron densities in mercury-treated skin, Arch. Environ. Health 19: 7–14.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. Silberberg, I., Baer, R. L., and Rosenthal, S. A., 1974a, Circulating Langerhans cells in a dermal vessel, Acta Derm. Venereol. 54: 81–86.Google Scholar
  58. Silberberg, I., Baer, R. L., and Rosenthal, S. A., 19746, The role of Langerhans cells in contact allergy. I. An ultrastructural study in actively induced contact dermatitis in guinea pigs, Acta Derm. Venereol. 54: 321–331.Google Scholar
  59. Silberberg, I., Baer, R. L., Rosenthal, S. A., Thorbecke, G. J., and Berezowsky, V., 1975a, Langerhans cells in skin, lymphatic-like vessels and draining lymph nodes in allergic contact sensitivity, Clin. Res. 23: 231A.Google Scholar
  60. Silberberg, I., Baer, R. L., Rosenthal, S. A., Thorbecke, G. J., and Berezowsky, V., 19756, Dermal and intra-vascular Langerhans cells at sites of passively induced allergic contact sensitivity, Cell. Immunol. 18: 435–453.Google Scholar
  61. Silberberg-Sinakin, I., Thorbecke, G. J., Baer, R. L., Rosenthal, S. A., and Berezowsky, V., 1976, Antigen-bearing Langerhans cells in skin, dermal lymphatics and in lymph nodes, Cell. Immunol. 25: 137–151.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Silberberg-Sinakin, I., Fedorko, M. E., Baer, R. L., Rosenthal, S. A., Berezowsky, V., and Thorbecke, G. J., 1977, Langerhans cells: Target cells in immune complex reactions, Cell. Immunol. 32: 400–416.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Silberberg-Sinakin, I., Baer, R. I., and Thorbecke, G. J., 1978, Langerhans cells. A review of their nature with emphasis on their immunologic functions, Prog. Allergy 24: 268–294.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  64. Stingl, G., Wolf-Schreiner, E. C., Pichler, W. J., Gschnait, F., Knapp, W., and Wolff, K., 1977, Epidermal Langerhans cells bear Fc and C3 receptors, Nature (London) 268: 245–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Stingl, G., Katz, S. I., Shevach, E. M., and Green, I., 1978a, Detection of Ia-antigens on Langerhans cells in guinea pig skin, J. Immunol. 120: 570–578.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  66. Sting!, G., Katz, S. I., Shevach, E. M., Rosenthal, A. S., and Green, I., 19786, Analogous functions of macrophages and Langerhans cells in the initiation of the immune response, J. Invest. Dermatol. 71: 59–64.Google Scholar
  67. Streilein, J. W., Toews, G. T., Gilliam, J. N., and Bergs-tresser, P. R., 1980, Tolerance or hypersensitivity to DNFB: The role of Langerhans cell density within epidermis, J. Invest. Dermatol. 74: 319–322.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Takaki, Y., and Miyazaki, H., 1976, Cytolytic degeneration of keratinocytes adjacent to Langerhans cells in pityriasis rosea (Gibert), Acta Derm. Venereol. 56: 99–103.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  69. Tamaki, K., Sting!, G., Gullino, M., Sachs, D. H., and Katz, S. I., 1979, la antigens in mouse skin are predominantly expressed on Langerhans cells, J. Immunol. 123: 784–787.Google Scholar
  70. Tamaki, K., Stingl, G., and Katz, S. I., 1980, The origin of Langerhans cells, J. Invest. Dermatol. 74: 309–311.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Tan, R. S. H., Butterworth, C. M., McLaughlin, H., Malka, S., and Samman, P. D., 1974, Mycosis fungoides—a disease of antigen persistence, Br. J. Dermatol. 91: 607–616.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Tarnowski, W. M., and Hashimoto, K., 1967, Langerhans cell granules in histocytosis X, Arch. Dermatol. 96: 298–304.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Van Furth, R., Langevoort, H. L., and Schaberg, A., 1975, in: Mononuclear Phagocytes in Immunity, Infection and Pathology (R. van Furth, ed.), pp. 1–15, Blackwell, Oxford.Google Scholar
  74. Wiedmann, A., 1952, Zur Frage der sogenannten Langerhans-Zellen der Haut, Hautarzt 3: 349–252.Google Scholar
  75. Wolff, K., 1967, Die Langerhans-Zelle. Ergebnisse neuerer experimenteller Untersuchungen, I and II, Arch. Klin. Exp. Dermatol. 220: 54–101.Google Scholar
  76. Wolff, K., 1972, in: Current Problems in Dermatology, Vol. 4 (J. W. H. Mali, ed.), pp. 79–145, Karger, Basel.Google Scholar
  77. Wolff, K., and Hönigsmann, H., 1971, Permeability of the epidermis and phagocytic activity of keratinocytes, J. Ultrastruct. Res. 36: 176–190.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Wolff, K., and Schreiner, E., 1970, Uptake, intracellular transport and degradation of exogenous protein by Langerhans cells. An electron microscopic cjdochemical study using peroxidase as tracer substance, J. Invest. Dermatol. 54: 37–47.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Wolff, K., and Winkelmann, R. K., 1967, Quantitative studies on the Langerhans cell population of guinea pig epidermis, J. Invest. Dermatol. 48: 504–514.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  80. Zelickson, A. S., 1965, The Langerhans cell, J. Invest. Dermatol. 44: 201–212.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rudolf L. Baer
    • 1
  • Brian Berman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of DermatologyNew York University School of MedicineNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations