Analysis of IFN-κ expression in pathologic skin conditions: Downregulation in psoriasis and atopic dermatitis

Claudia Scarponi, Bernardetta Nardelli, David W. Lafleur, Paul A. Moore, Stefania Madonna, Ornella De Pità, Giampiero Girolomoni, Cristina Albanesi

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Interferon-κ (IFN-κ) is a type I IFN expressed by keratinocytes, monocytes and dendritic cells (DCs). In human keratinocytes, it is produced in response to double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) and other IFNs and protects from viral infections. In monocytes and DCs, IFN-κ induces tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interleukin-10 (IL-10) and inhibits lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced IL-12. In this study, we evaluated IFN-κ expression in skin lesions of patients with common immune-mediated inflammatory disorders using immunohistochemical techniques. IFN-κ was not detectable in healthy skin but was strongly expressed in allergic contact dermatitis and lichen planus-affected skin. IFN-κ was localized mainly in basal and suprabasal keratinocytes and in some leukocytes infiltrating the dermis. In contrast, IFN-κ expression in psoriatic or atopic dermatitis (AD) epidermis was weak and detectable in only 2 of 5 patients examined. Consistently, cultured keratinocytes and monocytes obtained from psoriatic and AD patients expressed null or low levels of IFN-κ in response to IFN-γ, which strongly upregulates IFN-κ in normal keratinocytes. IFN-κ accumulated in keratinocyte cytoplasm and plasma membrane, and only limited amounts were released extracellularly. Soluble IFN-κ did not influence keratinocyte proliferation or chemokine and membrane molecule expression, and only its membrane-associated form activated IFN-stimulated response element (ISRE) signaling. Given the difference in IFN-κ expression levels in the skin disorders examined, IFN-κ presence or deficiency might have different pathogenetic consequences depending also on other disease-specific intrinsic alterations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-140
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Interferon and Cytokine Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Virology
  • Cell Biology


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