Simultaneous Colloidal Gold Immunoelectronmicroscopy Labeling of CD1a, HLA-DR, and CD4 Surface Antigens of Human Epidermal Langerhans Cells

J Invest Dermatol. 1988 Dec;91(6):547-52. doi: 10.1111/1523-1747.ep12476912.


The simultaneous demonstration of three surface antigens of Langerhans cells (LC) within LC-enriched fresh epidermal cell suspensions from normal human skin was achieved, by means of a triple immunogold (IG) staining, using commercially available monoclonal antibodies (moAb) and immunoreagents, in a simple pre-embedding immunoelectronmicroscopy (IEM) procedure. As a result, suspended LC were triple-stained as follows: gold particles of 40 nm revealed the CD1 a antigen; gold particles of 20 nm revealed the HLA-DR antigen; and gold particles of 5 nm revealed the CD4 antigen. All the observed epidermal Birbeck granule-bearing LC were triple IG stained, thus simultaneously expressing the three surface differentiation antigens, which are therefore different from but coexisting with each other. The present investigation assesses the constant simultaneous expression by Birbeck granules bearing LC of not only CD1a and HLA-DR antigens, but also CD4 antigen. The occurrence is therefore excluded of both CD1a-positive HLA-DR-negative LC subpopulation and CD4-negative LC subpopulation, presumably due to the different sensitivity of the various procedures performed. The hypothetical occurrence of CD4-positive, CD1a-, and/or HLA-DR-negative LC subpopulations is ruled out. This study reaffirms indeed the high specificity and sensitivity of the IG-IEM method for a precise detection of the cell surface antigens of LC, and states the suitability of the IG labeling even for accurate multiple IEM stainings of LC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antigens, Differentiation / analysis*
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte / analysis*
  • HLA-DR Antigens / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Langerhans Cells / immunology*
  • Middle Aged


  • Antigens, Differentiation
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte
  • HLA-DR Antigens