MELANOCYTES

AND SKIN IMMUNITY

Yuxiao Hong, Bing Song, Hong-Duo Chen and Xing-Hua Gao

The Journal of Investigative Dermatology Symposium (2015) 17

producing cells that are derived from the neural crest.Introduction Melanocytes in skin are melanin. Melanocytes and their production of melanin pigment (a process termed melanogenesis) have important roles in cutaneous physiology .

Introduction The most obvious and most studied function of melanocytes is to synthesize melanin that confers color on skin and hair. and protects epidermal cells from ultraviolet radiation- induced changes in DNA structure .

Possible immunological roles of melanocytes in skin Histologically. form a physical barrier that protects the skin from pathogens and other types of injury. . melanocytes. being positioned strategically within the epidermis. along with keratinocytes and Langerhans cells.

coupled with their strategic location in the superficial layers of skin.The dendritic nature and large surface area of melanocytes. raise the possibility that they are immunologically important cells in the skin immune system .

melanocytes may recognize trigger NF-kB and/or melanocyt mitogen-activated es pathogen- associated protein kinase signaling express molecular patterns pathways thereby functional present in producing several pro- TLRs microbes.. and have inflammatory cytokines important roles in and chemokines host defense 6 . human receptors that e.g. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are a class of Upon ligation of TLRs Normal conserved with lipopolysaccharide.

sion of their co- leukocyte function– stimulating and adhe- associated antigen-1. melanocytes Upon CD40 ligation.specific cell immunocompetent contact. melanocytes upregulate CAM-1 is the ligand for expres.Intercellular adhesion molecules such as CD40 antigen has a key ntercellular adhesion role in T-cell.dependent molecule 1 (ICAM-1) and activation. 7 . sion molecules. proliferation. CD40 have also been and differentiation of B shown to be expressed by cells. indicating which mediates that they are likely to be nonantigen.

dopaquinone. and many reactive oxygen species . Melanocytes and innate immune responses Melanization has important protective roles in many species as many toxic intermediates may be produced. including semiquinones. indolequinones.

inflammatory cytokine production by T lymphocytes. melanocytes secrete a wide range of immunological molecules. monocytes. including inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) Melanocytes could also regu. It has been found to have immunomodulatory activities through inhibition of pro. fibroblasts. and endothelial cells In response to various stimuli.late cutaneous immune response by producing and releasing several immunosuppressive molecules such as alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone 9 .Melanin may also have an immunoregulatory role.

phagocytosis by melanocytes suggests that melanocytes have antigen presentation potential. Melanocytes and adaptive immunity It has been demonstrated that melanocytes are capable of phagocytosis. Because phagocytosis is understood to be a prerequisite for antigen processing and presentation. .

Melanocytes may be involved in specialized immune cells-mediated skin immunity Macrophages are key cellular components of the innate immune system. Melanocytes are also located in the upper layer of the dermis or in the hair follicle pigmentary unit where melanocytes and their products might communicate with other cells .