Background: Failure of aged human epidermis to induce HLA-DR antigens after intradermal administration of gamma-interferon (IFN-γ) has recently been observed. Objective: The purpose of the study was to find out whether this observation reflects an intrinsic impairment in the aged skin or is rather due to an environmental factor. Methods: Aged and young human skin grafted onto nude mice were injected with IFN-γ, and the induction of HLA-DR, intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and Langerhans cell (LC) migration patterns were studied. Results: Increased surface expression of both HLA-DR and ICAM-1 molecules by epidermal cells was observed in all grafts, after IFN-γ injections, whereas a decrease in LC was found only in the young grafts. Conclusion: This study may indicate that the lack of response of aged skin to IFN-γ is due to both intrinsic impairment in epidermal cell function and changes in function of cells outside the epidermis such as lymphocytes and endothelial cells.

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