Quantitative and morphological changes of Langerhans cells in Bowen's disease from patients with chronic arsenicism.

B. J. Wang, Y. Y. Lee, C. P. Mak, H. F. Kao, M. L. Hsu, J. R. Hsien

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Langerhans cells (LCs) are considered to be responsible for the immunologic presentation of tumor-associated antigens and play a role in the elimination of neoplastic clones. Ultraviolet light B can cause dysfunction and loss of LCs. Both the number and dendritic morphology of LCs are known to be diminished in squamous cell carcinomas from sun-exposed skin. The effects of arsenics on LCs are unknown. Using an OKT-6 monoclonal antibody to stain intraepithelial LCs, we compared their number and morphology in Bowen's lesions and in the perilesional skin from sun-protected sites in ten patients with chronic arsenicism. There was a significant reduction in the numbers of LCs in the Bowen's lesions as compared to the perilesional skin specimens. Loss of dendrites was observed in all Bowen's lesions and in seven of the perilesional skin specimens. Ultrastructurally, the LCs showed an absence of dendrites, but the Birbeck granules were preserved. Since the specimens were not from sun-exposed skin in our study, the findings may be related to chronic arsenic intoxication. The morphologic alteration of LCs observed in the perilesional skin further suggests an arsenic-related systemic dysfunction of the LCs, which in turn may contribute to the development of skin cancers in these patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1093-1098
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the Formosan Medical Association = Taiwan yi zhi
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1991 Nov

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)

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