A wave of monocytes is recruited to replenish the long-term Langerhans cell network after immune injury

Ivana R. Ferrer, Heather C. West, Stephen Henderson, Dmitry S. Ushakov, Pedro Santos E. Sousa, Jessica Strid, Ronjon Chakraverty, Andrew J. Yates, Clare L. Bennett*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


A dense population of embryo-derived Langerhans cells (eLCs) is maintained within the sealed epidermis without contribution from circulating cells. When this network is perturbed by transient exposure to ultraviolet light, short-term LCs are temporarily reconstituted from an initial wave of monocytes but thought to be superseded by more permanent repopulation with undefined LC precursors. However, the extent to which this process is relevant to immunopathological processes that damage LC population integrity is not known. Using a model of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, where alloreactive T cells directly target eLCs, we have asked whether and how the original LC network is ultimately restored. We find that donor monocytes, but not dendritic cells, are the precursors of long-term LCs in this context. Destruction of eLCs leads to recruitment of a wave of monocytes that engraft in the epidermis and undergo a sequential pathway of differentiation via transcriptionally distinct EpCAM+ precursors. Monocyte-derived LCs acquire the capacity of self-renewal, and proliferation in the epidermis matched that of steady-state eLCs. However, we identified a bottleneck in the differentiation and survival of epidermal monocytes, which, together with the slow rate of renewal of mature LCs, limits repair of the network. Furthermore, replenishment of the LC network leads to constitutive entry of cells into the epidermal compartment. Thus, immune injury triggers functional adaptation of mechanisms used to maintain tissue-resident macrophages at other sites, but this process is highly inefficient in the skin.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereaax8704
JournalScience Immunology
Issue number38
Early online date23 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2019


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