Although it is known that dendritic cells (DC) migrate in response to inflammatory stimuli. There is little information about the expression of receptors for chemotactic factors on DC. The present study has demonstrated by double immunostaining and flow cytometry of Langerhan's cell (LC)-enriched epidermal cell suspensions that a small subpopulation (5-6%) of epidermal resident DC (rLC) expresses receptors for C5a (C5aR). Epidermal rLC positive for C5aR show a round-shape morphology, were located next to the basement membrane and express HLA-DR molecules higher than C5aR negative rLC. These observations suggest that rLC would express C5aR as part of their process of maturation during tissue trafficking. To investigate whether epidermal LC up-regulate C5aR along their differentiation pathway. LC were differentiated in vitro after culture in epidermal cell suspensions supplemented with granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF). As a result, in vitro differentiated LC increased the expression of C5aR up to 69% of the DC population. In accordance with this observation, interdigitating DC of secondary lymphoid organs (lymph node and tonsil) also expressed (5aR. Migratory CD1a positive DC that spontaneously migrated out of dermal or split-skin organ explants were also positive for C5aR and were used for chemotaxis and chemokinesis assays in response to human recombinant C5a (rC5a). Optimum migration to rC5a was observed at 10(-8)M with a sigmoidal dose response curve. Checkboard analysis demonstrated that locomotion in response to rC5a was chemotaxis and not chemokinesis.