Comparison of S-100 and OKT6 antisera in human skin.
The monoclonal antibody OKT6 and antisera against S-100 protein have both been advocated as immunologic markers of Langerhans cells in the skin. S-100 antiserum has an advantage in its ability to stain Langerhans cells in paraffin tissues. In order to evaluate whether these antibodies stain equivalent numbers of Langerhans cells in skin, we compared the staining patterns of S-100 antiserum and OKT6 antibody on biopsy specimens from 40 patients with leprosy using immunoperoxidase techniques. Utilizing OKT6 antibody, greater numbers of positive Langerhans cells were found in the epidermis in tuberculoid leprosy, reversal reaction, and erythema nodosum leprosum than in lepromatous leprosy. However, these differences were not observed with the S-100 antiserum and, overall, fewer cells were found as compared with the OKT6 antibody. In the dermis both antibodies stained "dendritic cells" that were found encircling granulomas in tuberculoid leprosy and reversal reaction. Staining in lepromatous leprosy granulomas, in contrast to the epidermal staining pattern, revealed rare OKT6-positive cells, while S-100 cells were numerous and were more diffusely distributed throughout the granuloma. Our results indicate that antiserum to S-100 protein and OKT6 antibody stain morphologically similar cells (dendritic cells), but do not provide comparable results concerning distribution and frequency of these cells.