An immunoregulatory role of aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) has been shown in conventional αβ and γδ T cells, but its function in skin γδ T cells (dendritic epidermal T cells [DETC]) is unknown. In this study, we demonstrate that DETC express AhR in wildtype mice, and are specifically absent in the epidermis of AhR-deficient mice (AhR-KO). We show that DETC precursors are generated in the thymus and home to the skin. Proliferation of DETC in the skin was impaired in AhR-KO mice, resulting in a >90% loss compared with wild type. Surprisingly, DETC were not replaced by αβ T cells or conventional γδ T cells, suggesting a limited time frame for seeding this niche.We found that DETC from AhR-KO mice failed to express the receptor tyrosine kinase c-Kit, a known growth factor for γδ T cells in the gut. Moreover, we found that c-kit is a direct target of AhR, and propose that AhR-dependent c-Kit expression is potentially involved in DETC homeostasis. DETC are a major source of GM-CSF in the skin. Recently, we had shown that impaired Langerhans cell maturation in AhR-KO is related to low GM-CSF levels. Our findings suggest that the DETCs are necessary for LC maturation, and provide insights into a novel role for AhR in the maintenance of skin-specific γδ T cells, and its consequences for the skin immune network. Copyright,
Journal of Immunology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Kadow, S., Jux, B., Zahner, S. P., Wingerath, B., Chmill, S., Clausen, B., … Esser, C. (2011). Aryl hydrocarbon receptor is critical for homeostasis of invariant γδ T cells in the murine epidermis. Journal of Immunology, 187(6), 3104–3110. doi:10.4049/jimmunol.1100912