Tracking and quantification of dendritic cell migration and antigen trafficking between the skin and lymph nodes

Sci Rep. 2014 Aug 12;4:6030. doi: 10.1038/srep06030.


Skin-derived dendritic cells (DCs) play a crucial role in the maintenance of immune homeostasis due to their role in antigen trafficking from the skin to the draining lymph nodes (dLNs). To quantify the spatiotemporal regulation of skin-derived DCs in vivo, we generated knock-in mice expressing the photoconvertible fluorescent protein KikGR. By exposing the skin or dLN of these mice to violet light, we were able to label and track the migration and turnover of endogenous skin-derived DCs. Langerhans cells and CD103(+)DCs, including Langerin(+)CD103(+)dermal DCs (DDCs), remained in the dLN for 4-4.5 days after migration from the skin, while CD103(-)DDCs persisted for only two days. Application of a skin irritant (chemical stress) induced a transient >10-fold increase in CD103(-)DDC migration from the skin to the dLN. Tape stripping (mechanical injury) induced a long-lasting four-fold increase in CD103(-)DDC migration to the dLN and accelerated the trafficking of exogenous protein antigens by these cells. Both stresses increased the turnover of CD103(-)DDCs within the dLN, causing these cells to die within one day of arrival. Therefore, CD103(-)DDCs act as sentinels against skin invasion that respond with increased cellular migration and antigen trafficking from the skin to the dLNs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism
  • Cell Movement
  • Dendritic Cells / cytology*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism
  • Dermatitis, Irritant / immunology
  • Dermatitis, Irritant / pathology
  • Gene Knock-In Techniques
  • Integrin alpha Chains / metabolism
  • Langerhans Cells / cytology
  • Langerhans Cells / immunology
  • Langerhans Cells / metabolism
  • Light
  • Lymph Nodes / cytology*
  • Lymph Nodes / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Receptors, CCR7 / deficiency
  • Receptors, CCR7 / genetics
  • Receptors, CCR7 / metabolism
  • Skin / cytology*
  • Skin / immunology
  • Skin / metabolism


  • Antigens, CD
  • Ccr7 protein, mouse
  • Integrin alpha Chains
  • Proteins
  • ROSA22 protein, mouse
  • Receptors, CCR7
  • alpha E integrins