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Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2004 Dec;135(4):348-56. Epub 2004 Nov 24.

Upregulation of interleukin-13 and its receptor in a murine model of bleomycin-induced scleroderma.

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Department of Dermatology, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, School of Medicine, 1-5-45 Yushima, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan.



Interleukin-13 (IL-13) has been implicated in the pathogenesis of fibrotic conditions. Previously, a murine model for scleroderma has been established by repeated local injections of bleomycin. This animal model enabled us to study local expression and production of IL-13 in skin lesions during disease progression.


Dermal sclerosis (DSc) was induced by repeated subcutaneous injections of bleomycin (1 mg/ml) in C3H/HeJ mice. IL-13 and IL-4 expressions were examined by RT-PCR, ELISA and immunohistochemistry.


RT-PCR showed that both IL-4 and IL-13 mRNA levels in skin lesions were increased and peaked after 4 weeks of bleomycin treatment. Quantification by densitometry revealed up to 4.2- and 1.9-fold increases, respectively. Immunohistochemical localization showed in skin lesions expression of IL-13 on infiltrating inflammatory cells, including mononuclear cells and possibly mast cells, increased with DSc progression. IL-13 protein production was also significantly increased. In skin lesions, IL-13 receptor (IL-13R) alpha2 expression was augmented mainly in the infiltrating mononuclear cells after 4 weeks of bleomycin exposure. IL-13Ralpha2, but not IL-13Ralpha1, mRNA was upregulated in the whole skin after 4 weeks. On the contrary, mRNA expression of IL-13Ralpha1 and IL- 13Ralpha2 was significantly altered in the cultured fibroblasts derived from bleomycin-treated skin.


These data demonstrate that in skin lesions levels of IL-13 as well as its receptor increase in parallel with DSc progression, suggesting that IL-13 promotes the progression of cutaneous fibrosis/sclerosis in the murine model of bleomycin-induced scleroderma.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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