Open Access Open Badges Research

Neurogenic factor-induced Langerhans cell activation in diabetic mice with mechanical allodynia

Jacqueline R Dauch1, Diane E Bender1, Lucía A Luna-Wong1, Wilson Hsieh1, Brandon M Yanik1, Zachary A Kelly1 and Hsinlin T Cheng12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neurology, University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

2 Department of Neurology, University of Michigan, 109 Zina Pitcher Place, 5015 Biomedical Science Research Building, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2200, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

Journal of Neuroinflammation 2013, 10:64  doi:10.1186/1742-2094-10-64

Published: 14 May 2013



Langerhans cells (LCs) are antigen-presenting dendritic cells located in the skin. It has been reported that LC activation is associated with painful diabetic neuropathy (PDN); however, the mechanism of LC activation is still unclear.


The db/db mouse, a rodent model of PDN, was used to study the roles of LCs in the development of PDN in type 2 diabetes. Hind foot pads from db/db and control db/+ mice from 5 to 24 weeks of age (encompassing the period of mechanical allodynia development and its abatement) were collected and processed for immunohistochemistry studies. LCs were identified with immunohistochemistry using an antibody against CD207 (Langerin). The intraepidermal nerve fibers and subepidermal nerve plexus were identified by immunohistochemistry of protein gene product 9.5 (PGP 9.5) and tropomyosin-receptor kinase (Trk) A, the high affinity nerve growth factor receptor.


CD207-positive LCs increased in the db/db mouse during the period of mechanical allodynia, from 8 to 10 weeks of age, in both the epidermis and subepidermal plexus. At 16 weeks of age, when mechanical allodynia diminishes, LC populations were reduced in the epidermis and subepidermal plexus. Epidermal LCs (ELCs) were positive for Trk A. Subepidermal LCs (SLCs) were positive for CD68, suggesting that they are immature LCs. Additionally, these SLCs were positive for the receptor of advanced glycation end products (RAGE) and were in direct contact with TNF-α-positive nerve fibers in the subepidermal nerve plexus during the period of mechanical allodynia. Intrathecal administration of SB203580, a p38 kinase inhibitor, significantly reduced mechanical allodynia, TNF-α expression in the subepidermal plexus, and increased both ELC and SLC populations during the period of mechanical allodynia.


Our data support the hypothesis that increased LC populations in PDN are activated by p38-dependent neurogenic factors and may be involved in the pathogenesis of PDN.

Langerhans cells; Painful diabetic neuropathy; p38; Type 2 diabetes; Tumor necrosis factor-α; Mechanical allodynia; db/db mouse