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Clin Exp Immunol. 2016 May;184(2):159-73. doi: 10.1111/cei.12761. Epub 2016 Feb 22.

Distinct expression of interleukin (IL)-36α, β and γ, their antagonist IL-36Ra and IL-38 in psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease.

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INSERM, UMR 957, Nantes, France.
Laboratoire De Physiopathologie De La Résorption Osseuse, Faculté De Médecine, Université De Nantes, Nantes Atlantique Universités.
Rheumatology Unit, Nantes University Hospital, Nantes, France.
EA 4331, University of Poitiers, Poitiers, France.
Service Immunologie/Inflammation, Poitiers University Hospital, Poitiers, France.
INSERM, UMR 913, Nantes, France.
Service d'Hépato-Gastroentérologie, Nantes University Hospital, Nantes, France.
Division of Rheumatology, Department of Internal Medicine Specialties, University Hospitals of Geneva and Department of Pathology-Immunology, University of Geneva School of Medicine, Geneva, Switzerland.


Interleukin (IL)-36α, IL-36β and IL-36γ are expressed highly in skin and are involved in the pathogenesis of psoriasis, while the antagonists IL-36Ra or IL-38, another potential IL-36 inhibitor, limit uncontrolled inflammation. The expression and role of IL-36 cytokines in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and Crohn's disease (CD) is currently debated. Here, we observed that during imiquimod-induced mouse skin inflammation and in human psoriasis, expression of IL-36α, γ and IL-36Ra, but not IL-36β and IL-38 mRNA, was induced and correlated with IL-1β and T helper type 17 (Th17) cytokines (IL-17A, IL-22, IL-23, CCL20). In mice with collagen-induced arthritis and in the synovium of patients with RA, IL-36α, β, γ, IL-36Ra and IL-38 were all elevated and correlated with IL-1β, CCL3, CCL4 and macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF), but not with Th17 cytokines. In the colon of mice with dextran sulphate sodium-induced colitis and in patients with CD, only IL-36α, γ and IL-38 were induced at relatively low levels and correlated with IL-1β and IL-17A. We suggest that only a minor subgroup of patients with RA (17-29%) or CD (25%) had an elevated IL-36 agonists/antagonists ratio, versus 93% of patients with psoriasis. By immunohistochemistry, IL-36 cytokines were produced by various cell types in skin, synovium and colonic mucosa such as keratinocytes, CD68⁺ macrophages, dendritic/Langerhans cells and CD79α⁺ plasma cells. In primary cultures of monocytes or inflammatory macrophages (M1), IL-36β and IL-36Ra were produced constitutively, but IL-36α, γ and IL-38 were produced after lipopolysaccharide stimulation. These distinct expression profiles may help to explain why only subgroups of RA and CD patients have a potentially elevated IL-36 agonists/antagonists ratio.


Crohn's disease; IL-36; psoriasis; rheumatoid arthritis

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