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July 1989

Variations in the Number and Morphology of Langerhans' Cells in the Epidermal Component of Squamous Cell Carcinomas

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Dermatology, Baylor College of Medicine (Drs Goldberg and Wolf), and Immunology, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center (Drs Alcalay and Kripke), Houston. Dr Alcalay is a fellow of the Dermatology Foundation and the Schering-Plough Foundation Inc.

Arch Dermatol. 1989;125(7):917-920. doi:10.1001/archderm.1989.01670190051004

• We investigated the number and morphology of Langerhans' cells in the epidermal component of squamous cell carcinomas located on the sun-exposed skin of 10 patients. Using adenosine triphosphatase-stained epidermis from the tumors, we compared the Langerhans' cells in squamous cell carcinoma with those in nontumorous skin specimens from the same patient. The nontumorous skin specimen was obtained from either sun-exposed perilesional or non-sun-exposed sites. In three patients a normal number and almost normal morphology of Langerhans' cells were observed within the epidermal component of the tumor. One patient showed a normal number but a profound alteration of the morphology of the cells. In the remaining six patients, a significant decrease in the number of Langerhans' cells was observed. Langerhans' cells within the epidermal component of the tumors of these patients exhibited morphologic alterations in that they were mainly round or oval rather than highly dendritic. In none of our patients was the number of Langerhans' cells in the tumor increased. We conclude that a decreased number and altered morphology of Langerhans' cells occur in some, but not all, squamous cell carcinomas of the skin, and that there is no apparent difference between the number of Langerhans' cells in sun-exposed vs unexposed skin from the same individual.

(Arch Dermatol. 1989;125:917-920)

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