Burn injury suppresses human dermal dendritic cell and Langerhans cell function
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Human skin contains epidermal Langerhans cells (LCs) and dermal dendritic cells (DCs) that are key players in induction of adaptive immunity upon infection. After major burn injury, suppressed adaptive immunity has been observed in patients. Here we demonstrate that burn injury affects adaptive immunity by altering both epidermal LC and dermal DC functions. We developed a human ex vivo burn injury model to study the function of DCs in thermally injured skin. No differences were observed in the capacity of both LCs and dermal DCs to migrate out of burned skin compared to unburned skin. Similarly, expression levels of co-stimulatory molecules were unaltered. Notably, we observed a strong reduction of T cell activation induced by antigen presenting cell (APC) subsets that migrated from burned skin through soluble burn factors. Further analyses demonstrated that both epidermal LCs and dermal DCs have a decreased T cell stimulatory capacity after burn injury. Restoring the T cell stimulatory capacity of DC subsets might improve tissue regeneration in patients with burn wounds.