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An automated method for the quantification of immunostained human Langerhans cells

Journal of Immunological Methods
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0022-1759(00)00328-8
  • Contact Allergens
  • Human
  • Alternative
  • Langerhans Cell
  • Quantification
  • Epidermis
  • Chemistry
  • Philosophy


Abstract Allergic contact dermatitis is a frequent and increasing health problem. For ethical reasons, the current animal tests used to screen for contact sensitizers should be replaced by in vitro alternatives. Contact sensitizers have been shown to accelerate Langerhans cell (LC) migration from human organotypic skin explant cultures (hOSECs) more rapidly than non-sensitizers and it has been proposed that the hOSEC model could be used to screen for sensitizers. However, chemically induced decreases in epidermal LC numbers need to be accurately quantified if the alterations in epidermal LC numbers are to form the basis of an alternative system for screening contact sensitizers in vitro. As manual counting of LCs is labour intensive and subject to intra- and inter-personal variation we developed an image analysis routine, using the Leica QWin image analysis software, to quantify LCs in situ using immunohistochemically stained skin sections. LCs can be identified using antibodies against the membrane molecule CD1a or the Lag antibody, which recognises cytoplasmic Birbeck granules. Quantification of epidermal LC number using the image analysis software had a much lower inter-person variation than when the same specimens were counted manually, using both the anti-Lag and CD1a antibodies. The software-aided quantification of epidermal LCs provides an accurate method for measuring chemically-induced changes in LC numbers.

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