Loss of epidermal langerhans cells occurs in human papillomavirus alpha, gamma, and mu but not beta genus infections

Cheng Mee Leong, John Doorbar, Ingo Nindl, Hanseung Yoon, Merilyn H Hibma

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29 Citations (Scopus)


Human papillomaviruses (HPVs), which are contained in the a, b, g, m, and n genera, differ in their oncogenic potential and their tropism for cutaneous or mucosal epidermis. Langerhans cells (LC), the only epidermal professional antigen-presenting cells, are readily detected in normal mucosal and cutaneous epithelium. The aim of this study is to determine whether LC loss, which has been reported for HPV16, occurs in other HPV genera and establish its significance in viral pathology.We found that, as for HPV16, LCs were reduced in lesions infected with high-risk mucosal (a7 and a9 species) and low-risk cutaneous (g and m) types. Lesions infected with a10 low-risk genital types had reduced LC but contained epidermal LC patches, coincident with dermislocalized regulatory T cells (T-regs). In contrast to other genera, LCs were common in the epidermis, and T-regs occupied the dermis of the potentially high-risk cutaneous b-HPV type infected lesions. Therefore, LC loss in the infected lesions occurred irrespective of tropism or oncogenic potential of the HPV type. LC depletion in the HPV-infected epidermis may create an environment that is permissive for viral persistence and in HPV lesions in which LCs are found, the presence of typically immunosuppressive T-regs may compensate for their continued presence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)472 - 480
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

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