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J Immunol. 2003 Jan 1;170(1):575-80.

By IL-1 signaling, monocyte-derived cells dramatically enhance the epidermal antimicrobial response to lipopolysaccharide.

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Will Rogers Pulmonary Research Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1690, USA.


Epithelia react to microbial pathogens by mounting a defensive response that includes the production of antimicrobial peptides. In this study, we show that, in human epidermal cultures, Escherichia coli LPS was a very weak direct inducer of human beta-defensin (HBD)-2 mRNA and peptide, but the induction was greatly amplified when monocyte-derived cells (MoDeC) acted as intermediaries between LPS and the epidermis. IL-1R antagonist largely reversed the effect of MoDeC on epidermal HBD-2, indicating that, from among the many products of MoDeC, IL-1 was the dominant inducer of HBD-2 synthesis. In normal fresh human skin, which contains Langerhans cells and other myeloid cell types, in addition to keratinocytes, LPS also induced HBD-2 in an IL-1-dependent manner. In DNA microarray expression studies, HBD-2 was one of the most abundant mRNAs induced in epidermis by LPS-treated MoDeC, and its induction was reversed by IL-1Ra. Thus, epidermal response to LPS is potently amplified by MoDeC through IL-1-mediated signaling, leading to a selective increase in the synthesis of the antimicrobial peptide HBD-2. This pattern of responses establishes a key role for both IL-1 and HBD-2 in the host defense reaction of the epidermis.

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