The role of the epithelial sentinels, Langerhans cells and γδT cells, in oral squamous cell carcinoma

Avi Hai Hovav*, Asaf Wilensky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) arises in the oral epithelium, a tissue in which immune surveillance is mediated by its primary resident leukocytes, Langerhans cells (LCs), and γδT cells. Under steady-state conditions, LCs and γδT cells play a critical role in maintaining oral mucosal homeostasis. As antigen-presenting cells of stratified epithelia, LCs respond to various challenges faced by the epithelium, orchestrating innate, and adaptive immune responses in order to resolve them. γδT cells also sense diverse epithelial insults and react rapidly through cytokine production and cytolytic activity. These epithelial sentinels are also considered to be the first leukocytes in the oral epithelium to encounter early carcinogenic events that have the potential of becoming OSCC. As evident in many malignancies, leukocyte populations help prevent cancer development although they also promote tumor progression. OSCC is no exception, as studies have reported both anti- and pro-tumor roles of LCs and γδT cells. In this review, we summarize the ontogeny of LCs and γδT cells in the oral epithelium and discuss their role in OSCC.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalPeriodontology 2000
Early online date25 Jan 2024
StateE-pub ahead of print - 25 Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. Periodontology 2000 published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • Langerhans cells
  • immune sentinels
  • oral epithelium
  • γδT cells


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