CD1 expression by dendritic cells in human leprosy lesions: correlation with effective host immunity.
A potential role for the CD1 family of lipid Ag-presenting molecules in antimicrobial immunity in vivo was investigated in human leprosy skin lesions. Strong induction of three CD1 proteins (CD1a, -b, and -c) was observed in dermal granulomas in biopsy samples of involved skin from patients with the tuberculoid form of leprosy or with reversal reactions, which represent clinical patterns of disease associated with active cellular immunity to Mycobacterium leprae. In contrast, lesions from patients with the lepromatous form of the disease who lack effective cell-mediated immunity to the pathogen did not show induction of CD1 proteins. Thus, expression of CD1 correlated directly with effective immunity to M. leprae, as assessed by the clinical course of infection. CD1a, -b, and -c could be induced to similar levels on monocytes from the blood of either tuberculoid or lepromatous leprosy patients. This suggested that the absence of expression in lepromatous lesions was most likely due to local factors at the site of infection as opposed to a primary defect of the CD1 system itself. The majority of cells expressing CD1 in leprosy lesions were identified as a population of CD83+ dendritic cells. Initial in vitro studies of the Ag-presenting function of CD1+CD83+ monocyte-derived dendritic cells showed that such cells were highly efficient APCs for CD1-restricted T cells. These results indicate that the CD1 system can be up-regulated in human infectious diseases in vivo, and may play a role in augmenting host defense against microbial pathogens.