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Granulation tissue with a poorly formed granuloma to the left of centre. Within this area there is a multinucleate giant cell of the Langhans type. The patient had a healing mycobacterial infection of the skin (M. ulcerans infection).

Langhans giant cells are large cells found in granulomatous conditions.

They are formed by the fusion of epithelioid cells (macrophages), and contain nuclei arranged in a horseshoe-shaped pattern in the cell periphery.[1]

Although traditionally their presence was associated with tuberculosis, they are not specific for tuberculosis or even for mycobacterial disease. In fact, they are found in nearly every form of granulomatous disease, regardless of etiology.


Langhans giant cells are named for Theodor Langhans (1839-1915), a German pathologist.[2]

They should not be confused with Langerhans cells, which are mononuclear epidermal dendritic cells derived (like Langhans cells) from monocytes and named for Paul Langerhans. (The Islets of Langerhans are also named for Paul Langerhans.)


  1. ^ "Pulmonary Pathology". Retrieved 2008-11-21.  
  2. ^ Pritchard J, Foley P, Wong H (September 2003). "Langerhans and Langhans: what's misleading in a name?". Lancet 362 (9387): 922. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(03)14323-1. PMID 13678997.  

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