Draining lymph node cells isolated from mice 24 h following topical exposure to a variety of contact-sensitizing chemicals, including the dinitrobenzene derivatives, 2,4-dinitrochlorobenzene and 2,4-dinitrothiocyanobenzene, contained increased numbers of dendritic cells (DCs). The increase in frequency of DCs was time-dependent and preceded significant changes in either lymph node cellularity or lymph node cell pro-liferative activity. The degree of DC accumulation was also influenced by the chemical used and the concentration employed for sensitization. In the context of contact allergy, the biological relevance of this phenomenon to the induction of hapten-specific responses is indicated by the fact that relatively small numbers of DC-enriched fractions of lymph node cells (comprising approximately 70% DCs), but not unfractionated or DC-depleted populations, transferred sensitization to naive animals. Moreover, using the skin-sensitizing fluorochrome, fluorescein isothiocyanate, it was observed that 24 h following exposure the majority of lymph node cells bearing high concentrations of antigen were within the DC-rich fraction.

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