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Langerhans cells (LCs) can be targeted with DNA-coated gold micro-projectiles ("Gene Gun") to induce potent cellular and humoral immune responses. It is likely that the relative volumetric distribution of LCs and keratinocytes within the epidermis impacts on the efficacy of Gene Gun immunization protocols. This study quantified the three-dimensional (3D) distribution of LCs and keratinocytes in the mouse skin model with a near-infrared multiphoton laser-scanning microscope (NIR-MPLSM). Stratum corneum (SC) and viable epidermal thickness measured with MPLSM was found in close agreement with conventional histology. LCs were located in the vertical plane at a mean depth of 14.9 microm, less than 3 mum above the dermo-epidermal boundary and with a normal histogram distribution. This likely corresponds to the fact that LCs reside in the suprabasal layer (stratum germinativum). The nuclear volume of keratinocytes was found to be approximately 1.4 times larger than that of resident LCs (88.6 microm3). Importantly, the ratio of LCs to keratinocytes in mouse ear skin (1:15) is more than three times higher than that reported for human breast skin (1:53). Accordingly, cross-presentation may be more significant in clinical Gene Gun applications than in pre-clinical mouse studies. These interspecies differences should be considered in pre-clinical trials using mouse models.

Original publication




Journal article


J Invest Dermatol

Publication Date





1541 - 1548


Animals, Biolistics, Breast, Epidermal Cells, Humans, Imaging, Three-Dimensional, Immunity, Cellular, Immunohistochemistry, Keratinocytes, Langerhans Cells, Mice, Mice, Inbred BALB C, Microscopy, Fluorescence, Multiphoton, Models, Animal, Skin, Vaccination