Langerhans cells (LC) represent a well characterized subset of dendritic cells located in the epidermis of skin and mucosae. In vivo, they originate from resident and blood-borne precursors in the presence of keratinocyte-derived TGFβ. In vitro, LC can be generated from monocytes in the presence of GM-CSF, IL-4 and TGFβ. However, the signals that induce LC during an inflammatory reaction are not fully investigated. Here we report that Activin A, a TGFβ family member induced by proinflammatory cytokines and involved in skin morphogenesis and wound healing, induces the differentiation of human monocytes into LC in the absence of TGFβ. Activin A-induced LC are Langerin+, Birbeck granules+, E-cadherin+, CLA+ and CCR6+ and possess typical APC functions. In human skin explants, intradermal injection of Activin A increased the number of CD1a+ and Langerin+ cells in both the epidermis and dermis by promoting the differentiation of resident precursor cells. High levels of Activin A were present in the upper epidermal layers and in the dermis of Lichen Planus biopsies in association with a marked infiltration of CD1a+ and Langerin+ cells. This study reports that Activin A induces the differentiation of circulating CD14+ cells into LC. Since Activin A is abundantly produced during inflammatory conditions which are also characterized by increased numbers of LC, we propose that this cytokine represents a new pathway, alternative to TGFβ, responsible for LC differentiation during inflammatory/autoimmune conditions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)