The Roles of Skin Langerhans Cells in Immune Tolerance and Cancer Immunity

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Vaccines (Basel)


Langerhans cells (LC) are a unique population of tissue-resident macrophages with dendritic cell (DC) functionality that form a network of cells across the epidermis of the skin. Their location at the skin barrier suggests an important role for LC as immune sentinels at the skin surface. The classification of LC as DC over the past few decades has driven the scientific community to extensively study how LC function as DC-like cells that prime T cell immunity. However, LC are a unique type of tissue-resident macrophages, and recent evidence also supports an immunoregulatory role of LC at steady state and during specific inflammatory conditions, highlighting the impact of cutaneous environment in shaping LC functionality. In this mini review, we discuss the recent literature on the immune tolerance function of LC in homeostasis and disease conditions, including malignant transformation and progression; as well as LC functional plasticity for adaption to microenvironmental cues and the potential connection between LC population heterogeneity and functional diversity. Future investigation into the molecular mechanisms that LC use to integrate different microenvironment cues and adapt immunological responses for controlling LC functional plasticity is needed for future breakthroughs in tumor immunology, vaccine development, and treatments for inflammatory skin diseases.

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