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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Differential effects of structurally unrelated chemical irritants on the density and morphology of epidermal CD1+ cells.

In order to gain a greater insight into the complex mechanisms of action of different irritant chemicals on the skin, we have studied the behavior of epidermal CD1+ cells in experimentally induced irritant contact dermatitis. Healthy, human volunteers were patch tested for 48 h with the following six chemically unrelated irritants and their appropriate vehicle controls; benzalkonium chloride, sodium lauryl sulphate, dithranol, nonanoic acid, croton oil, and propylene glycol. After visually assessing and grading the resulting inflammatory reactions, punch biopsies were taken and the morphology and density of CD1+ cells in the epidermis studied using immunocytochemical techniques in combination with image analysis and electron microscopy. Statistically significant decreases in the epidermal density of CD1+ cells occurred in the responses to dithranol (p less than 0.05) and nonanoic acid (p less than 0.01). Importantly, these changes in density were not simply due to variations in the intensity of inflammatory response (r = 0.1157). Alterations in the length of the dendritic processes of CD1+ cells were also induced, and semi-quantitative analysis revealed significant decreases in dendrite length in the reactions to sodium lauryl sulphate (p less than 0.05), nonanoic acid (p less than 0.001), croton oil (p less than 0.05), and dithranol (p less than 0.005). Unlike epidermal density, however, this effect on cell morphology was directly related to the severity of inflammation (r = -0.74, p less than 0.01). Morphologic evidence of cellular injury to Langerhans cells was seen by electron microscopy in the majority of biopsies, although relatively few cells were affected in sodium lauryl sulphate and propylene glycol reactions. Benzalkonium chloride, unlike the other irritants, also induced a state of metabolic activation in a high proportion of epidermal Langerhans cells. Lymphocyte/Langerhans cell apposition was observed in most samples, but was particularly prevalent in the reactions to dithranol. The results of this study demonstrate that significant changes in the morphology and density of Langerhans cells occur in irritant contact dermatitis, some of which are directly influenced by the chemical nature of the irritant.[1]


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