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The T cell cytokines profoundly modify the phenotypic and functional characteristics of keratinocytes. Until now, no study has focused on the effect of Th1 and Th2 cytokines on keratinocyte permeability. Using a two-layer well culturing system, permeability was assessed through cultured keratinocyte sheet in the presence or absence of various concentrations of IFN-γ and IL-4. Transepithelial electrical resistance (TER) and the flux of 40 kDa FITC-dextrans were measured across the cultured keratinocyte sheet. IFN-γ significantly increased the TER in a dose- and time-dependent manner, suggesting that IFN-γ profoundly inhibited the permeability of ions through the keratinocyte sheet. In contrast, IL-4 did not affect the TER. When compared to medium control, the flux of FITC-dextran of the IFN-γ group was significantly decreased in a dose-dependent fashion. In sharp contrast, the flux of FITC-dextran was significantly and dose-dependently increased in the presence of IL-4. A significant increase in TER and a significant decrease in the flux of dextran suggested that IFN-γ clearly reduced the permeability of both ions and high molecular weight material through the keratinocyte sheet. Although IL-4 did not affect the permeability of the ions, it significantly enhanced the permeability of high molecular weight material. A flow cytometric assay revealed that the expression of desmoglein-3 was suppressed by IL-4, but was enhanced by IFN-γ. The reciprocal regulation of permeability of the cultured keratinocyte sheet by IFN-γ and IL-4 may be partly related to the modification of intercellular adhesion molecules.