Thy-1 antigen-bearing dendritic cells populate murine epidermis

J Invest Dermatol. 1983 Sep;81(3):286-8. doi: 10.1111/1523-1747.ep12518332.


Two distinct cell populations, melanocytes and Langerhans cells (LC), have been recognized previously to possess dendritic configuration in normal mammalian epidermis. Employing immunofluorescence microscopy with monoclonal antibodies against Thy-1.2 antigen to identify cells in whole mounts of murine epidermis, we have identified a third dendritic cell population which differs from both LC and melanocytes. Thy-1 antigen-bearing (Thy-1+) epidermal cells are primarily dendritic, although round and angular forms may be found. They are distributed relatively evenly across skin surfaces, although densities vary greatly from site to site and from strain to strain. Densities were highest in ear epidermis from the pigmented strain B10.A (580 cells/mm2), a value approaching that of epidermal LC, and were lowest in ear epidermis from the albino strain BALB/c (5 cells/mm2). Thy-1+ epidermal cells possess neither Ia antigens nor substantial amounts of melanin, and their surface distributions are disparate from those of both LC and mature melanocytes. We propose that at least some of these cells are T lymphocytes whose malignant counterparts account for cutaneous T-cell lymphomas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Surface / analysis*
  • Epidermal Cells*
  • Epidermis / immunology
  • Immunologic Techniques
  • Langerhans Cells / immunology
  • Melanocytes / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Thy-1 Antigens


  • Antigens, Surface
  • Thy-1 Antigens