• dendritic cells;
  • immunocytochemistry;
  • ovalbumin;
  • T cells

The ability of Langerhans cells (LC) from rat oral mucosa to internalize and process antigens and to participate in the induction of T cell mitogenesis was examined. To purify LC from epithelial cells, monoclonal anti-class II antibodies and immunomagnetic beads were employed. Suspensions of epithelial cells, containing LC, were found to be effective in mediating a Con A-induced T cell proliferation. Depletion of class II molecule-expressing LC reduced the proliferation of T cells by 80%. Presentation of ovalbumin (OA) to primed T cells was found to be dependent on the concentration of OA and the number of LC. Partially purified LC were five times as effective in inducing proliferation of primed T cells as the untreated suspension of epithelial cells. The data suggest that LC obtained from rat oral mucosa can generate accessory signals, process antigens and serve as antigen-presenting cells.