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Lymphokine Cytokine Res. 1994 Apr;13(2):71-6.

Effects of a novel topical immunomodulator, imiquimod, on keratinocyte cytokine gene expression.

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Division of Dermatology, University of Toronto, Canada.


A novel immunomodulator, imiquimod, has been shown to be an effective topical antiviral and antitumor agent in animal models. Imiquimod has been reported to induce interferon-alpha and other cytokines in animals and humans, but its precise role as an immunomodulator at skin sites has not been determined. We investigated its effect on cytokine gene expression in the human epidermal carcinoma cell line COLO-16 and human keratinocytes. COLO-16 cells were incubated with imiquimod (1 and 10 micrograms/ml) and human keratinocytes with 5 micrograms/ml for 6 or 24 h. Cytokine gene expression was analyzed by reverse-transcriptase PCR. In COLO-16 cells, imiquimod stimulated IL-6 mRNA levels 2.3- and 4.4-fold at 1 and 10 micrograms/ml after 6 h. IL-8 mRNA increased 4-fold at both 1 and 10 micrograms/ml. At 24 h, though IL-6 mRNA level at 1 micrograms/ml was further stimulated, enhanced expressions of IL-8 at 1 micrograms/ml and both IL-6 and IL-8 at 10 micrograms/ml were down-regulated. In human keratinocytes, 5 micrograms/ml of imiquimod stimulated IL-6 mRNA levels 1.4-fold at 6 h and 2.1-fold at 24 h, and IL-8 mRNA levels 1.7- and 2.0-fold at 6 and 24 h. IL-1 alpha mRNA levels in COLO-16 or keratinocytes were unchanged by either dose or incubation time. These results suggest that stimulation of IL-6 and IL-8 expression may be involved in the immunomodulating action of imiquimod.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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