Interleukin-22, a TH17 cytokine, mediates IL-23-induced dermal inflammation and acanthosis

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Abstract

Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease characterized by hyperplasia of the epidermis (acanthosis), infiltration of leukocytes into both the dermis and epidermis, and dilation and growth of blood vessels1. The underlying cause of the epidermal acanthosis in psoriasis is still largely unknown. Recently, interleukin (IL)-23, a cytokine involved in the development of IL-17-producing T helper cells (TH17 cells)2,3, was found to have a potential function in the pathogenesis of psoriasis4,5. Here we show that IL-22 is preferentially produced by TH17 cells and mediates the acanthosis induced by IL-23. We found that IL-23 or IL-6 can directly induce the production of IL-22 from both murine and human naive T cells. However, the production of IL-22 and IL-17 from TH17 cells is differentially regulated. Transforming growth factor-β, although crucial for IL-17 production, actually inhibits IL-22 production. Furthermore, IL-22 mediates IL-23-induced acanthosis and dermal inflammation through the activation of Stat3 (signal transduction and activators of transcription 3)in vivo.Our results suggest that TH17 cells, through the production of both IL-22 and IL-17, might have essential functions in host defence and in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis. IL-22, as an effector cytokine produced by T cells, mediates the cross-talk between the immune system and epithelial cells.

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