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J Invest Dermatol. 2001 Apr;116(4):549-55.

Characterization of the CC chemokine receptor 3 on human keratinocytes.

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Hannover Medical University, Department of Dermatology and Allergology, Hannover, Germany.


CC chemokine receptors are expressed on hematopoietic cells, and these may impart selective homing of monocyte, leukocyte, and lymphocyte subsets to sites of inflammation. CC chemokine receptor 3 is the major receptor on eosinophils and is also expressed on other inflammatory cells suggesting its important role for allergic diseases such as atopic dermatitis and bronchial asthma. Eotaxin, eotaxin-2 and eotaxin-3 have been identified as ligands that only activate CC chemokine receptor 3. CC chemokine receptor 3 is also activated by other promiscuous ligands, however, such as RANTES and monocyte chemotactic protein 4. To date, CC chemokine receptor 3 has not been reported to be expressed on nonhematopoietic cells. In this study, we investigated whether keratinocytes possess autocrine and paracrine mechanisms for CC chemokine secretion and receptor expression as reported for the expression of interleukin 8 and its receptors. Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction analysis demonstrated that CC chemokine receptor 3 mRNA is expressed constitutively in cultured keratinocytes. The signal quantities of the CC chemokine receptor 3 amplicons showed lower intensities for keratinocytes than for eosinophils. In situ hybridization techniques exhibited that basal cell layers of the epidermis were stained homogeneously for CC chemokine receptor 3 mRNA with a decreasing signal to the upper epidermis showing that differentiating and proliferating keratinocytes did express mRNA specific for CC chemokine receptor 3. Immunohistochemical studies confirmed low expression of CC chemokine receptor 3 protein on epidermal keratinocytes compared to the high level observed on infiltrating eosinophils. Furthermore, stimulation of cultured keratinocytes with eotaxin resulted in an increased [3H]thymidine incorporation indicating a role of CC chemokine receptor 3 in epidermal proliferation and differentiation. These data demonstrate that CC chemokine receptor 3 is expressed not only on hematopoietic cells but also on keratinocytes as nonhematopoietic cells with ectodermal origin. Therefore, the identification of CC chemokine receptor 3 on epidermal keratinocytes may indicate a role for CC chemokine receptor 3 and its ligands in skin physiology and pathophysiology.

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