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Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2001 Apr;239(4):294-301.

The influence of pro-inflammatory cytokines on human retinal pigment epithelium cell receptors.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Leipzig, Liebigstrasse 10-14, 04103 Leipzig, Germany.



To investigate the mRNA expression of the receptors for tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNFRp55, TNFRp75), interferon gamma (IFN gamma R alpha, IFN gamma R beta), interleukin 10 (IL-10R, CRFB4) and transforming growth factor beta (TGF beta RII) on human retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells and to modulate this expression with the pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-alpha and IFN-gamma as stimulators.


The cells were cultured in the presence of TNF-alpha (10 ng/ml), IFN-gamma (1000 U/ml) or a combination of both for 24 h, 48 h and 72 h. The total RNA was prepared, and the receptor mRNA expression was investigated by the reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction method. The changes in mRNA expression during the modulation were quantified by the ribonuclease protection assay.


The mRNA for TNFRp55, TNFRp75, IFN gamma R alpha, IFN gamma R beta, CRFB4 and TGF beta RII was constitutively expressed in vitro. IL-10R mRNA was detected in neither unstimulated nor stimulated RPE cells. Especially the mRNA of the TNF-Rp75 was up-regulated, mainly by IFN-gamma or the combination of both stimulators.


Our results demonstrate that human RPE cells express the mRNA of different cytokine receptors and the expression may be partially modulated by pro-inflammatory cytokines. This may show that RPE cells act as corresponding cells not only in vitro, but also in inflammation and immunological processes in the eye. In this connection it could be hypothesised that activated RPE cells play a stimulating role in addition to the known suppressive one.

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