Epidermal Langerhans cell density and contact sensitivity in young and aged BALB/c mice.

Mechanisms of ageing and development

PubMedID: 3613688

Choi KL, Sauder DN. Epidermal Langerhans cell density and contact sensitivity in young and aged BALB/c mice. Mech Ageing Dev. 1987;39(1):69-79.
The loss of tissue and organ function with age may depend on the inability of old cells to carry out specialized functions. Like other systems in the body, the immune system deteriorates with age. Over the past 10 years it has become clear that the skin can play an active role in immunological processes. In this report we evaluated changes in murine cutaneous immunity with age. Studies in humans had shown a decreased Langerhans cell density with age, but it is difficult to control for the effect of ultraviolet light in human studies. Since ultraviolet light has a significant effect on Langerhans cells, we chose to evaluate the effect of age on Langerhans cell density using inbred mice not exposed to ultraviolet light. Cutaneous immunity was examined phenotypically by studying Langerhans cell density and functionally by studying allergic contact sensitivity. Langerhans cell density was assessed in epidermal sheets prepared from ear skin of mice and examined by ATPase histochemistry and fluoresceinated anti-Ia staining. With both methods, aged (18 months old) mice had approximately two-thirds the number of Langerhans cells that young (10-12 weeks old) animals did. Allergic contact sensitivity response to trinitrochlorobenzene (TNCB) was compared between aged and young animals. Although the aged animals demonstrated increased variability in their responsiveness, there was no overall difference in this example of cutaneous immunoreactivity between the two age groups.