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J Mol Med (Berl). 2009 May;87(5):523-36. doi: 10.1007/s00109-009-0457-0. Epub 2009 Mar 30.

IL-22 and IL-20 are key mediators of the epidermal alterations in psoriasis while IL-17 and IFN-gamma are not.

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  • 1Interdisciplinary Group of Molecular Immunopathology, Dermatology/Medical Immunology, University Hospital Charit√©, Charit√©platz 1, 10117, Berlin, Germany.


Psoriasis is a common chronic skin disease with a largely unknown pathogenesis. We demonstrate here that transgenic over-expression of interleukin (IL)-22 in mice resulted in neonatal mortality and psoriasis-like skin alterations including acanthosis and hypogranularity. This cutaneous phenotype may be caused by the direct influence of IL-22 on keratinocytes, since this cytokine did not affect skin fibroblasts, endothelial cells, melanocytes, or adipocytes. The comparison of cytokines with hypothesized roles in psoriasis pathogenesis determined that neither interferon (IFN)-gamma nor IL-17, but only IL-22 and, with lower potency, IL-20 caused psoriasis-like morphological changes in a three-dimensional human epidermis model. These changes were associated with inhibited keratinocyte terminal differentiation and with STAT3 upregulation. The IL-22 effect on differentiation-regulating genes was STAT3-dependent. In contrast to IL-22 and IL-20, IFN-gamma and IL-17 strongly induced T-cell and neutrophilic granulocyte-attracting chemokines, respectively. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha potently induced diverse chemokines and additionally enhanced the expression of IL-22 receptor pathway elements and amplified some IL-22 effects. This study suggests that different cytokines are players in the psoriasis pathogenesis although only the IL-10 family members IL-22 and IL-20 directly cause the characteristic epidermal alterations.

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