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Int Immunol. 2010 Jun;22(6):453-67. doi: 10.1093/intimm/dxq027. Epub 2010 Apr 21.

Activation of human eosinophils and epidermal keratinocytes by Th2 cytokine IL-31: implication for the immunopathogenesis of atopic dermatitis.

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  • 1Department of Chemical Pathology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, NT, Hong Kong.


IL-31 is a novel T(h) type 2 cytokine that can induce pruritus and dermatitis in mice resembling human atopic dermatitis (AD). Eosinophil infiltration in skin lesions is a predominant pathological feature of AD. In the present study, we investigated the effects of IL-31 on the activation of human eosinophils and epidermal keratinocytes. Eosinophils and keratinocytes were cultured either together or separately in the presence or absence of IL-31 stimulation. IL-31 could significantly induce the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1beta, IL-6 and AD-related chemokines CXCL1, CXCL8, CCL2 and CCL18 from eosinophils, via functional cell surface IL-31 receptor. Such induction was further enhanced upon the co-culture of eosinophils and keratinocytes, in which eosinophils were the main source for releasing pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines. The presence of transwell inserts in co-culture system demonstrated that the direct interaction between eosinophils and keratinocytes was required for IL-31-induced cytokine and chemokine release. Cell surface expression of adhesion molecule CD18 on eosinophils and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 on keratinocytes was up-regulated in the co-culture, and levels were further enhanced upon IL-31 stimulation. The interaction between eosinophils and keratinocytes under IL-31 stimulation was differentially mediated through intracellular mitogen-activated protein kinases, nuclear factor-kappaB and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase-Akt pathways. The above findings suggest a crucial immunopathological role of IL-31 in AD through activation of eosinophils-keratinocytes system.

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