Targeting of antigens to skin dendritic cells: possibilities to enhance vaccine efficacy

Immunol Cell Biol. May-Jun 2010;88(4):424-30. doi: 10.1038/icb.2010.39. Epub 2010 Apr 6.


Vaccinations in medicine are commonly administered through the skin. Therefore, the vaccine is immunologically processed by antigen-presenting cells of the skin. There is recent evidence that the clinically less often used intradermal route is effective; in cases even superior to the conventional subcutaneous or intramuscular route. Professional antigen-presenting cells of the skin comprise epidermal Langerhans cells (CD207/langerin(+)), dermal langerin(-) and dermal langerin(+) dendritic cells (DCs). In human skin, langerin(-) dermal DCs can be further subdivided on the basis of their reciprocal CD1a and CD14 expression. The relative contributions of these subsets to the generation of immunity or tolerance are still unclear. Langerhans cells in human skin seem to be specialized for induction of cytotoxic T lymphocytes. Likewise, mouse Langerhans cells are capable of cross-presentation and of protecting against experimental tumours. It is desirable to harness these properties for immunotherapy. A promising strategy to dramatically improve the outcome of vaccinations is 'antigen targeting'. Thereby, the vaccine is delivered directly and selectively to defined types of skin DCs. Targeting is achieved by means of coupling antigen to antibodies that recognize cell surface receptors on DCs. This approach is being widely explored. Little is known, however, about the events that take place in the skin and the DCs subsets involved therein. This topic will be discussed in this article.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD / immunology
  • Humans
  • Langerhans Cells / immunology*
  • Lectins, C-Type / immunology
  • Mannose-Binding Lectins / immunology
  • Vaccines / immunology*


  • Antigens, CD
  • CD207 protein, human
  • Lectins, C-Type
  • Mannose-Binding Lectins
  • Vaccines