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Year : 2010  |  Volume : 47  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 474-

Langhans and Langerhans are different people and have different eponymous cells

SA Pai 
 Department of Pathology, Columbia Asia Referral Hospital, Malleshwaram West, Bangalore - 560 055, India

Correspondence Address:
S A Pai
Department of Pathology, Columbia Asia Referral Hospital, Malleshwaram West, Bangalore - 560 055
India




How to cite this article:
Pai S A. Langhans and Langerhans are different people and have different eponymous cells.Indian J Cancer 2010;47:474-474


How to cite this URL:
Pai S A. Langhans and Langerhans are different people and have different eponymous cells. Indian J Cancer [serial online] 2010 [cited 2021 Mar 3 ];47:474-474
Available from: https://www.indianjcancer.com/text.asp?2010/47/4/474/73555


Full Text

Sir,

Shahi et al, refer to Langerhans cells and Langerhan [sic] cell in their report on testicular tuberculosis. [1] In reality, they mean to refer to Langhans' cells rather than Langerhans' cells. It is not uncommon to see this error being made by students as well as physicians writing in the learned journals and books. [2],[3]

Langerhans' cells are dendritic cells that are present in the epidermis. They were first described in 1868 by Paul Langerhans while still a student. [4],[5],[6] The multinucleate giant cells seen in tuberculosis, on the other hand, are named after Theodor Langhans who described them in the same year, 1868. Furthermore, both scientists published their seminal papers on these cells in the same journal, Virchow's Archives. [4],[5]

Another interesting fact is that both Langerhans and Langhans developed tuberculosis and this is consistent with the hypothesis that researchers may die or at least suffer from the same disease that they study! [7]

Both Langhans and Langerhans made other discoveries too-in 1869, Langerhans described the islets in the pancreas that now bear his name while Langhans in 1882 described a layer of cells in the cytotrophoblast. [4],[5] To my knowledge, there has been an eponymous mixup even between these cells: there exists an erroneous reference to Langerhans cells of the trophoblast! [8]

Finally, I have recently seen a histopathology report signed out with a diagnosis of Langhans cell histiocytosis!

References

1Shahi KS, Bhandari G, Rajput P, Singh A. Testicular tuberculosis masquerading as testicular tumor. Indian J Cancer 2009;46:250-2.
2Vigorita VJ. Tuberculosis and Pott's disease. N Engl J Med 2003;348:1501.
3Lee TS, Lin YM. Langhans' giant cell or Langerhans' giant cell? Respir Med 2006;100:1666.
4Holubar K, Kopera D. What is an eponym? Exemplified with remarks on Theodor Langhans, Freidrich Merkel, and Paul Langerhans, three contemporary 19th- century pathologists. J Invest Dermatol 1994;103:257.
5Pritchard J, Foley P, Wong H. Langerhans and Langhans: What's misleading in a name? Lancet 2003;362:922.
6Pai SA. Students who shook the medical world. Student BMJ 2006;14:390-1.
7Pai SA. Death and the doctor. CMAJ 2002;167:77.
8Fritsch H, Kόhnel W. Color atlas of human anatomy. Thieme 2008;2:302.