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Am J Pathol. 1991 Jan;138(1):129-40.

Cellular localization of interleukin-8 and its inducer, tumor necrosis factor-alpha in psoriasis.

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Department of Pathology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor.


The importance of immunologic mechanisms in psoriasis has been deduced from the ability of immunosuppressive therapies to ameliorate this common and chronic skin disease. Certainly the histology of psoriatic lesions suggests a dialogue between the hyperplastic keratinocytes and infiltrating T lymphocytes and macrophages. To begin dissecting the cytokine network involved in the pathophysiology of psoriasis, the location, in both epidermal and dermal compartments, of tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin-8, intercellular adhesion molecule-1, and transforming growth factor-alpha at the protein and/or mRNA levels were identified. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha was selected as a potentially key regulatory cytokine, first because it induces cultured keratinocyte interleukin-8, intercellular adhesion molecule-1, and transforming growth factor-alpha production, and second because intercellular adhesion molecule-1 expression by keratinocytes in psoriatic epidermis had been identified previously. Using immunohistochemical localization, tumor necrosis factor-alpha was identified in 12 psoriatic lesions as intense and diffuse expression by dermal dendrocytes (macrophages) in the papillary dermis (without significant staining of endothelial cells, mast cells, or dermal Langerhans cells), and focally by keratinocytes and intraepidermal Langerhans cells. Functional interaction between the dermal dendrocytes and keratinocytes was suggested by the presence of interleukin-8 expression of suprabasal keratinocytes immediately above the tumor necrosis factor-alpha-positive dermal dendrocytes. Interleukin-8 mRNA and transforming growth factor-alpha mRNA were detectable in the epidermal roof of psoriatic lesions, but neither was detectable at the protein or mRNA levels in any normal skin specimens. Treatment of cultured human keratinocytes with phorbol ester (which experimentally produces psoriasiform changes on mouse skin) or tumor necrosis factor-alpha also increased interleukin-8 and transforming growth factor-alpha mRNAs. Further elucidation of the cellular and molecular basis for the genesis and evolution of psoriasis will provide the framework for a better evaluation of the cause and treatment of this skin disease.

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