The pivotal role of TGF-β in Langerhans cell (LC) development has been previously established in TGF-β-deficient mice, which lack epidermal LCs. As to whether TGF-β also governs LC homeostasis and function remains elusive. To assess the role of TGF-β-mediated control of cutaneous dendritic cells (DCs) in vivo, we generated mice with a conditional knockout of the TGF-β receptor 1 (TβR1) under a DC-specific promoter (DC-TβR1delmice). While initial LC seeding occurred in DC-TβR1delmice, the cells disappeared from the epidermis during the first week of life. TβR1-deficient LCs demonstrated spontaneous maturation and gained migratory potential based on increased surface expression of MHC class II, costimulatory molecules, and CCR7 and downregulation of E-cadherin. In parallel to their early loss from the epidermis, migrating LCs were reduced in the dermis and skin-draining lymph nodes of adult DC-TβR1delmice, whereas the number of Langerin+dermal DCs was similar to wild-type. In the absence of LCs, low-dose contact hypersensitivity in DC-TβR1delmice was significantly diminished. In contrast, ear swelling was restored to wild-type levels when a higher hapten dose was applied to efficiently target TβR1-deficient dermal DCs. In conclusion, TGF-β inhibits in vivo LC maturation and migratory phenotype, identifying TGF-β as a critical factor controlling LC homeostasis in the steady state. Copyright,
Journal of Immunology
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Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Kel, J.M, Girard-Madoux, M.J.H, Reizis, B, & Clausen, B.E. (2010). TGF-β is required to maintain the pool of immature langerhans cells in the epidermis. Journal of Immunology, 185(6), 3248–3255. doi:10.4049/jimmunol.1000981