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J Invest Dermatol. 2000 Oct;115(4):640-6.

A Th2 chemokine, TARC, produced by keratinocytes may recruit CLA+CCR4+ lymphocytes into lesional atopic dermatitis skin.

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Department of Dermatology, Marselisborg Hospital, University of Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark.


Atopic dermatitis is an inflammatory skin disease in which the inflammation is characterized by the influx of lymphocytes into the dermis. It is generally believed that atopic dermatitis is a Th2-type disease, i.e., the T lymphocytes produce interleukin-4, interleukin-5, interleukin-10, and interleukin-13, although it has become evident in recent years that the cytokine profile in the skin changes during the course of the disease towards a Th1-Th2 mixed cytokine profile (interferon-gamma, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and interleukin-2). The lymphocytes that home into the skin express cutaneous lymphocyte-associated antigen, and it has recently been shown that most of the lymphocytes in this population express the chemokine receptor CCR4. CCR4 is the receptor for the CC chemokine TARC (thymus and activation regulated chemokine), and this chemokine is expressed predominantly by keratinocytes in the basal layer of the epidermis of lesional atopic dermatitis skin in mice. In humans, however, it was shown to be expressed in the endothelial cells of the dermis. We have examined the peripheral blood mononuclear cells of atopic dermatitis patients for the expression of cutaneous lymphocyte-associated antigen and CCR4 and compared them with peripheral blood mononuclear cells from normal controls. We found that the proportion of CLA+CCR4+ lymphocytes is upregulated in atopic dermatitis patients. In addition we have examined skin biopsies of lesional and non-lesional skin from atopic dermatitis patients and found that the keratinocytes, but not the endothelial cells, produce TARC in the lesional but not in the nonlesional skin. To gain insight in the stimulatory mechanisms for TARC production in keratinocytes, as previously observed in mice, we cultured HaCaT cells and found that interferon-gamma and tumor necrosis factor alpha work synergistically to induce TARC production. These observations suggest that the induction of TARC production in keratinocytes plays an important role in the late phase skin invasion by CCR4+CLA+ Th2-type lymphocytes in atopic dermatitis.

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