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Photochem Photobiol. 2012 Sep-Oct;88(5):1111-25. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-1097.2012.01182.x. Epub 2012 Jul 9.

Inflammasome activation of IL-1 family mediators in response to cutaneous photodamage.

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Department of Dermatology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA.


Although keratinocytes are relatively resistant to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) induced damage, repeated UVR exposure result in accumulated DNA mutations that can lead to epidermal malignancies. Keratinocytes play a central role in elaborating innate responses that lead to inflammation and influence the generation of adaptive immune responses in skin. Apart from the minor cellular constituents of the epidermis, specifically Langerhans cells and melanocytes, keratinocytes are the major source of cytokines. UVR exposure stimulates keratinocytes to secrete abundant pro-inflammatory IL-1-family proteins, IL-1α, IL-1β, IL-18, and IL-33. Normal skin contains only low levels of inactive precursor forms of IL-1β and IL-18, which require caspase 1-mediated proteolysis for their maturation and secretion. However, caspase-1 activation is not constitutive, but dependents on the UV-induced formation of an active inflammasome complex. IL-1 family cytokines can induce a secondary cascade of mediators and cytokines from keratinocytes and other cells resulting in wide range of innate processes including infiltration of inflammatory leukocytes, induction of immunosuppression, DNA repair or apoptosis. Thus, the ability of keratinocytes to produce a wide repertoire of proinflammatory cytokines can influence the immune response locally as well as systematically, and alter the host response to photodamaged cells. We will highlight differential roles played by each IL-1 family molecule generated by UV-damaged keratinocytes, and reveal their complementary influences in modulating acute inflammatory and immunological events that follow cutaneous UV exposure.

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