Langerhans cells (LCs) constitute a subset of DCs that initiate immune responses in skin. Using leprosy as a model, we investigated whether expression of CD1a and langerin, an LC-specific C-type lectin, imparts a specific functional role to LCs. LC-like DCs and freshly isolated epidermal LCs presented nonpeptide antigens of Mycobacterium leprae to T cell clones derived from a leprosy patient in a CD1a-restricted and langerin-dependent manner. LC-like DCs were more efficient at CD1a-restricted antigen presentation than monocyte-derived DCs. LCs in leprosy lesions coexpress CD1a and langerin, placing LCs in position to efficiently present a subset of antigens to T cells as part of the host response to human infectious disease.
Robert E. Hunger, Peter A. Sieling, Maria Teresa Ochoa, Makoto Sugaya, Anne E. Burdick, Thomas H. Rea, Patrick J. Brennan, John T. Belisle, Andrew Blauvelt, Steven A. Porcelli, Robert L. Modlin