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Arthritis Rheum. 2013 May;65(5):1335-46. doi: 10.1002/art.37859.

Thymic stromal lymphopoietin is up-regulated in the skin of patients with systemic sclerosis and induces profibrotic genes and intracellular signaling that overlap with those induced by interleukin-13 and transforming growth factor β.

Author information

1
Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts 02118-2526, USA. romybc@bu.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To explore the expression of thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) in patients with diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis (dcSSc) and compare its effects in vivo and in vitro with those of interleukin-13 (IL-13) and transforming growth factor β (TGFβ).

METHODS:

Skin biopsy specimens from patients with dcSSc (n = 14) and healthy controls (n = 13) were analyzed by immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence for TSLP, TSLP receptor, CD4, CD8, CD31, and CD163 markers. Wild-type, IL-4Rα1-, and TSLP-deficient mice were treated with TGFβ, IL-13, poly(I-C), or TSLP by osmotic pump. Human fibroblasts and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were stimulated with TGFβ, IL-13, poly(I-C), or TSLP. Microarray analysis and quantitative polymerase chain reaction were performed to determine gene expression, and protein levels of phospho-Smad2 and macrophage marker CD163 were tested.

RESULTS:

TSLP was highly expressed in the skin of dcSSc patients, more strongly in perivascular areas and in immune cells, and was produced mainly by CD163+ cells. The skin of TSLP-treated mice showed up-regulated clusters of gene expression that overlapped strongly with those in IL-13- and TGFβ-treated mice. TSLP up-regulated specific genes, including CXCL9, proteasome, and interferon (IFN)-regulated genes. TSLP treatment in IL-4Rα1-deficient mice promoted similar cutaneous inflammation as in wild-type mice, though TSLP-induced arginase 1, CCL2, and matrix metalloproteinase 12 messenger RNA levels were blocked. In PBMCs, TSLP up-regulated tumor necrosis factor α, Mx-1, IFNγ, CXCL9, and mannose receptor 1 gene expression. TSLP-deficient mice treated with TGFβ showed less fibrosis and blocked expression of plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 and osteopontin 1. Poly(I-C)-treated mice showed high levels of cutaneous TSLP.

CONCLUSION:

TSLP is highly expressed in the skin of dcSSc patients and interacts in a complex manner with 2 other profibrotic cytokines, TGFβ and IL-13, strongly suggesting that it might promote SSc fibrosis directly or indirectly by synergistically stimulating profibrotic genes, or production of these cytokines.

PMID:
23335246
PMCID:
PMC4437575
DOI:
10.1002/art.37859
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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