Different subsets of Langerhans cells in human uterine tubes and uterus

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Langerhans cells (LC) are antigen-presenting cells present in tissues with high antigenic exposure. Their role in the upper female reproductive tract is not fully understood. This study aims to determine the distribution and morphology of LC in the normal and post-partum human uterine tubes and uterus by staining with the specific LC markers, CD1a and zinc iodide-osmium (ZIO), and to determine their association with helper and cytotoxic T cells.

Material and Methods:

Normal and post-partum uterine tube and uterine specimens were stained with CD1a and ZIO and their morphology and distribution noted. Double immune staining with CD1a-CD4 and CD1a-CD8 in post-partum uterine tube were also done.


It was noted that CD1a-positive cells were significantly fewer and smaller in diameter than ZIO-positive cells in the uterine tube and both types of cells were significantly more prevalent in post-partum tubes. Perivascular clusters of ZIO-positive cells were seen in the post-partum tubes. Close association of CD1a-positive cells with CD4- and CD8-positive T cells was noted in the post-partum uterine tube. In the uterus, scanty CD1a-positive cells were present in the surface and glandular epithelium and endometrial stroma. ZIO-positive cells were absent.


This study suggests that CD1a-positive and ZIO-positive cells may be different subsets of LC that are needed for presentation of antigen to immunocompetent cells. Their respective functions are yet to be determined.

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