Get access

REVIEWCytokines and chemokines in the initiation and regulation of epidermal Langerhans cell mobilization


Dr Ian Kimber. E-mail:


Langerhans cells (LC) are members of the wider family of dendritic cells. LC reside in the epidermis where they serve as sentinels of the immune system, their responsibilities being to sample the external environment for changes and challenges and to deliver information (antigen) to responsive T lymphocytes within skin draining lymph nodes. The ability of LC to migrate from the epidermis to regional lymph nodes is therefore of pivotal importance to the induction of cutaneous immune responses. The journey that LC have to make from the skin has a number of requirements. Initially it is necessary that LC disassociate themselves from surrounding keratinocytes and are liberated from other influences that encourage their retention in the epidermis. Subsequently, migrating LC must successfully traverse the basement membrane of the dermal–epidermal junction and make their way, via afferent lymphatics, to draining lymph nodes. Effective entry into lymph nodes is necessary, as is correct positioning of cells within the paracortex. There is increasing evidence that both cytokines and chemokines, and their interaction with appropriate receptors expressed by LC, orchestrate the mobilization and movement of these cells. We here consider the parts played by these molecules, and how collectively they induce and direct LC migration.

Get access to the full text of this article