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J Immunol. 1997 Dec 15;159(12):6291-7.

Demonstration and functional analysis of IL-10 receptors in human epidermal cells: decreased expression in psoriatic skin, down-modulation by IL-8, and up-regulation by an antipsoriatic glucocorticosteroid in normal cultured keratinocytes.

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Center for Biological and Medical Research, Department of Dermatology, University of Düsseldorf, Germany.


The chronic skin disease psoriasis is characterized by epidermal hyperproliferation and inflammation. The exact etiology of the disease is still unknown. At the molecular level, overexpression of growth factors and proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-8 and the corresponding receptor has been described in psoriatic plaques. On the other hand, the loss of inhibitory control mechanisms is involved in the pathogenesis of the disease, as exemplified by the reduced mRNA levels for the cell cycle inhibitor p53 found in lesional skin. Here we extend these findings to a cytokine with negative regulatory functions, IL-10. Only under certain conditions are human keratinocytes able to synthesize IL-10. In skin, pathological overexpression of IL-10 was described om atopic dermatitis. IL-10 exerts its effects via a specific receptor (IL-10R). We show here for the first time the presence and functionality of IL-10R in epidermal cells and its dramatically decreased expression in acute exanthematic psoriatic epidermis by in vitro and in situ binding studies. These results were substantiated using semiquantitative reverse transcriptase-PCR, demonstrating decreased expression of the IL-10R gene in psoriatic skin, its down-modulation by the proinflammatory cytokine IL-8, and its pharmacological induction in cultured cells. Biological responsiveness of epidermal cells toward IL-10 could also be demonstrated by a reduction of the growth rate and inhibition of IFN-gamma-induced HLA-DR expression. Our results provide the first evidence for a role of the IL-10R gene in the homeostasis of the epidermis and substantiate the concept of a loss of negative regulatory peptides as a step in the eruption of psoriasis.

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