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Dermatology - Immunology

Activation of Eosinophils Interacting with Dermal Fibroblasts by Pruritogenic Cytokine IL-31 and Alarmin IL-33: Implications in Atopic Dermatitis
Published: Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Author: Chun-Kwok Wong et al.

by Chun-Kwok Wong, Karen Ming-Lam Leung, Huai-Na Qiu, Joyce Yin-Sau Chow, Angela On Kei Choi, Christopher Wai-Kei Lam


IL-31 is a pruritogenic cytokine, and IL-33 is an alarmin for damaging inflammation. They together relate to the pathogenesis of atopic dermatitis (AD). Eosinophil infiltration into the inner dermal compartment is a predominant pathological feature of AD. We herein investigated the in vitro inflammatory effects of IL-31 and IL-33 on the activation of human eosinophils and dermal fibroblasts.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Receptors, adhesion molecules and signaling molecules were assessed by Western blot or flow cytometry. Chemokines and cytokine were quantitated by multiplex assay. Functional IL-31 receptor component IL-31RA, OSMR-ß and IL-33 receptor component ST2 were constitutively expressed on the surface of eosinophils. Co-culture of eosinophils and fibroblasts significantly induced pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-6 and AD-related chemokines CXCL1, CXCL10, CCL2 and CCL5. Such inductions were further enhanced with IL-31 and IL-33 stimulation. IL-31 and IL-33 could significantly provoke the release of CXCL8 from eosinophils and fibroblasts, respectively, which was further enhanced upon co-culture. In co-culture, eosinophils and fibroblasts were the main source for the release of CCL5, and IL-6, CXCL1, CXCL8, CXCL10 and CCL2, respectively. Direct interaction between eosinophils and fibroblasts was required for CXCL1, CXCL10, CXCL8 and CCL5 release. Cell surface expression of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 on eosinophils and fibroblasts was up-regulated in co-culture upon IL-31 and IL-33 stimulation. The interaction between eosinophils and fibroblasts under IL-31 and IL-33 stimulation differentially activated extracellular signal-regulated kinase, c-Jun N-terminal kinase, p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase, nuclear factor-?B and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase–Akt pathways. Using specific signaling molecule inhibitors, the differential induction of IL-31 and IL-33-mediated release of cytokines and chemokines such as IL-6 and CXCL8 from co-culture should be related to their distinct activation profile of intracellular signaling pathways.


The above findings suggest a crucial immunopathological role of IL-31 and IL-33 in AD through the activation of eosinophils-fibroblasts interaction via differential intracellular signaling mechanisms.