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J Immunol. 2006 Feb 1;176(3):1908-15.

In vitro and in situ expression of IL-23 by keratinocytes in healthy skin and psoriasis lesions: enhanced expression in psoriatic skin.

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Department of Dermatology, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Keratinocytes contribute to cutaneous immune responses through the expression of cytokines. We investigated whether human keratinocytes can express IL-23, a newly defined IFN-gamma-inducing cytokine composed of a unique p19 subunit and a p40 subunit shared with IL-12. Cultured keratinocytes from normal and lesional psoriatic skin were found to express constitutively mRNA for both subunits of IL-23. Low but significant levels of the heterodimeric IL-23 protein could be detected in cell lysates and supernatants from stimulated keratinocytes by immunoblotting and ELISA. Functional analysis showed that these low levels of keratinocyte-derived IL-23 were sufficient to enhance the IFN-gamma production by memory T cells. Immunostaining of skin sections confirmed expression of both subunits of IL-23 by keratinocytes in situ and also revealed expression of this cytokine in the dermal compartment. IL-23 expression was significantly higher in psoriatic lesional skin, compared with normal and psoriatic nonlesional skin. The immunostained preparations of cultured cells and IL-23 levels in culture supernatants did not show any difference between normal and psoriatic keratinocytes indicating no intrinsic aberration of IL-23 expression in keratinocytes from psoriatic skin. Double staining of cytospin preparations demonstrated that IL-23 p19 is also expressed by epidermal Langerhans cells, dermal dendritic cells, and macrophages. Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease mediated by IFN-gamma-expressing type 1 memory T cells. As IL-23 is important to activate memory T cells to produce IFN-gamma, its augmented expression of IL-23 by keratinocytes and cutaneous APC may contribute to the perpetuation of the inflammation process in this disease.

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