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J Invest Dermatol. 2009 Apr;129(4):994-1001. doi: 10.1038/jid.2008.332. Epub 2008 Nov 13.

UVB and proinflammatory cytokines synergistically activate TNF-alpha production in keratinocytes through enhanced gene transcription.

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  • 1Philadelphia V.A. Medical Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


UVB irradiation potently induces cytokines in the skin, including IL-1alpha and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha). The mechanism for TNF-alpha induction in UVB-irradiated keratinocytes is not clear. In this study, we explored the effects of UVB and cytokines, alone or in combination in human keratinocytes. Keratinocytes were sham- or UVB-irradiated with 30 mJ cm(-2), and then incubated in the absence or presence of IFN-alpha2b, TNF-alpha, or IL-1alpha. UVB and IL-1alpha treatment synergistically enhanced TNF-alpha secretion and mRNA levels in human keratinocytes, similar to the findings reported previously in human fibroblasts. Exogenous recombinant TNF-alpha up-regulates its own mRNA level. However, addition of IFN-alpha2b did not show any additive effect on TNF-alpha mRNA induction. To understand the regulation of TNF-alpha mRNA by UVB, with or without IL-1alpha, we examined the transcription rate and half-life of TNF-alpha mRNA. Treatment of keratinocytes with IL-1alpha or UVB alone increased TNF-alpha gene transcription 4- to 5-fold over sham treatment, and TNF-alpha gene transcription increased 11-fold in cells treated with UVB plus IL-1alpha over sham. UVB with IL-1alpha did not enhance the half-life of TNF-alpha mRNA over that seen with UVB alone. In conclusion, TNF-alpha expression in primary keratinocytes is upregulated transcriptionally by UVB and IL-1alpha.

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