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August 1987

Langerhans' Cells in Hair Follicles of the Depigmenting C57Bl/Ler-vit.vit Mouse: A Model for Human Vitiligo

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Dermatology, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

Arch Dermatol. 1987;123(8):1022-1028. doi:10.1001/archderm.1987.01660320064013

• The C57Bl/Ler-vit vit mouse grows a black pelage after birth. During successive hair molts, the fur loses its pigmentation. By 6 months of age, most of the fur of the animal is white. The epidermis of the ears and tail also loses its pigmentation. Histologic studies confirm that in the epidermis and hair follicles there is an absence of pigment cells identifiable by various histochemical or electron microscopic techniques. This mouse may be an excellent model in which to study the role of Langerhans' cells and the immune response in the pathogenesis of vitiligo, a study not easily done in humans. From results of prior studies, we postulated that if Langerhans' cells were involved in the destruction of melanocytes, they would be abnormal (either more or less numerous) in number during the active phase of depigmentation and normal in number after depigmentation was complete. To determine whether the Langerhans cell (la+/adenosine triphosphatase dendritic epidermal cell) might be involved in destruction of pigment cells, we quantified the number of la+ and adenosine triphosphatase dendritic cells in the hair follicles in skin from the ear, abdomen, back, and tail from male C57BI /Ler-vit vit mice while the fur and skin were depigmenting and after depigmentation was almost completed. We found that Langerhans' cells were normal in number during depigmentation and were most numerous after depigmentation. Previous studies indicate that Langerhans' cells in these mice are functionally defective and respond poorly to some contact allergens. From these morphologic and functional data, we conclude that Langerhans' cells probably are uninvolved in causing depigmentation in these mice. We also observed that the epithelium of hair follicles has a significantly higher (up to 1600 mm2) population density of Langerhans' cells than interfollicular skin.

(Arch Dermatol 1987;123:1022-1028)

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