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Langerhans cells (LCs) play a sentinel role by initiating both adaptive and innate immune responses to antigens pertinent to the skin. With the discovery of various LCs markers including antibodies to major histocompatibility complex class II (MHC-II) molecules and CD1a, intracellular presence of racket-shaped "Birbeck granules," and very recently Langerin/CD207, LCs can be readily distinguished from other subsets of dendritic cells. Femtosecond two-photon laser scanning microscopy (TPLSM) in recent years has emerged as an alternative to the single photon-excitation based confocal laser scanning microscope (CLSM), particularly for minimally-invasive deep-tissue 3D and 4D vital as well as nonvital biomedical imaging. We have recently combined high resolution two-photon immunofluorescence (using anti MHC-II and Langerin/CD207 antibodies) imaging with microspectroscopy and advanced image-processing/volume-rendering modalities. In this work, we demonstrate the use of this novel state-of-the-art combinational approach to characterize the steady state 3D organization and spectral features of the mouse epidermis, particularly to identify the spatial distribution of LCs. Our findings provide unequivocal direct evidence that, in the mouse epidermis, the MHC-II and mLangerin/CD207 antigens do indeed manifest a high degree of colocalization around the nucleus of the LCs, while in the distal dendritic processes, mLangerin/CD207 antigens are rather sparsely distributed as punctuate structures. This unique possibility to simultaneously visualize high resolution 3D-resolved spatial distributions of two different immuno-reactive antigens, namely MHC-II and mLangerin/CD207, along with the nuclei of LCs and the adjacent epidermal cells can find interesting applications. These could involve aspects associated with pragmatic analysis of the kinetics of LCs migration as a function of immuno-dermatological responses during (1) human Immunodeficiency virus disease progression, (2) vaccination and targeted gene therapy, (3) skin transplantation/plastic surgery, (4) ultraviolet and other radiation exposure, (5) tissue-engineering of 3D skin constructs, as well as in (6) cosmetic industry, to unravel the influence of cosmeceuticals.

Original publication




Journal article


Microsc Res Tech

Publication Date





767 - 775


Animals, Antigens, Surface, Cell Nucleus, Epidermal Cells, Epidermis, Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect, Histocompatibility Antigens Class II, Imaging, Three-Dimensional, Langerhans Cells, Lectins, C-Type, Mannose-Binding Lectins, Mice, Microscopy, Confocal, Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared