In vivo transformation of mouse conventional CD8alpha+ dendritic cells leads to progressive multisystem histiocytosis

Blood. 2008 Feb 15;111(4):2073-82. doi: 10.1182/blood-2007-06-097576. Epub 2007 Nov 20.


Division and proliferation of dendritic cells (DCs) have been proposed to contribute to homeostasis and to prolonged antigen presentation. Whether abnormal proliferation of dendritic cells causes Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH) is a highly debated topic. Transgenic expression of simian virus 40 (SV40) T antigens in mature DCs allowed their transformation in vivo while maintaining their phenotype, function, and maturation capacity. The transformed cells were differentiated splenic CD8 alpha-positive conventional dendritic cells with increased Langerin expression. Their selective transformation was correlated with higher steady-state cycling compared with CD8 alpha-negative DCs in wild-type and transgenic mice. Mice developed a DC disease involving the spleen, liver, bone marrow, thymus, and mesenteric lymph node. Surprisingly, lesions displayed key immunohistologic features of Langerhans cell histiocytosis, including expression of Langerin and absence of the abnormal mitoses observed in Langerhans cell sarcomas. Our results demonstrate that a transgenic mouse model with striking similarities to aggressive forms of multisystem histiocytosis, such as the Letterer-Siwe syndrome, can be obtained by transformation of conventional DCs. These findings suggest that conventional DCs may cause some human multisystem LCH. They can reveal shared molecular pathways for human histiocytosis between humans and mice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD11c Antigen / genetics
  • CD8 Antigens / immunology*
  • DNA Primers
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Genetic Markers
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Histiocytosis, Langerhans-Cell / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • CD11c Antigen
  • CD8 Antigens
  • CD8alpha antigen
  • DNA Primers
  • Genetic Markers
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins