Epidermal Langerhans cells are derived from cells originating in bone marrow

Nature. 1979 Nov 15;282(5736):324-6. doi: 10.1038/282324a0.


Langerhans cells constitute a morphologically well characterised subpopulation (3--8%) of mammalian epidermal cells which, in contrast to the bulk of epidermal cells, bear Fc-IgG and C3 receptors, express immune response-associated (Ia) antigens and function as antigen-presenting cells and allogeneic stimulatory cells to primed T lymphocytes. The ontogeny of Langerhans cells has been a subject of considerable debate since their discovery. Although some studies suggest that Langerhans cells are of mesenchymal as opposed to neural or melanocytic origin, direct evidence for this has not been presented. In this study we demonstrate that, after 3 weeks, most of the Langerhans cells (LC) in parenteral skin which had been transplanted on to F1 hybrids were of recipient origin whereas keratinocytes remained of donor origin; this indicates that the LC are derived from a mobile pool of cells. Furthermore, in studies of skin from radiation-induced bone marrow chimaeric animals we found that, depending on the strain combination, up to 80% of the epidermal LC were derived from the bone marrow of the donor animals.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow / immunology*
  • Bone Marrow Cells
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Epidermal Cells
  • Epidermis / immunology*
  • Graft Rejection
  • Histocompatibility Antigens*
  • Langerhans Cells / cytology
  • Langerhans Cells / immunology*
  • Major Histocompatibility Complex*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Radiation Chimera


  • Histocompatibility Antigens