Keratinocytes (KC) are important source of and targets for several cytokines. Although KC express IL-15 mRNA, the functional effects of IL-15 on these epithelial cells remain to be dissected. Investigating primary human foreskin KC and HaCaT cells, we show here by semiquantitative RT-PCR and flow cytometric analysis that both translate IL-15 and IL-15R mRNA and express IL- 15 and IL-15Rα protein on the cell surface, suggesting that human KC can employ IL-15 for juxtacrine signaling. While IL-15 exerted no significant effect on KC proliferation and IL-6 or IL-8 secretion, IL-15 inhibited both anti-Fas and methylcellulose-induced KC apoptosis in vitro. This is in line with the recognized potent anti-apoptotic effects of IL-15. IL-2, whose receptor shares two components with the IL-15R, failed to inhibit KC apoptosis. Together with the role of IL-15 in sustaining chronic immune reactions, this invited the question of whether a reduction of KC apoptosis by IL-15 may be involved in the pathogenesis of psoriasis, a chronic hyperproliferative inflammatory skin disease characterized by abnormally low KC apoptosis in the epidermis. Remarkably, compared with nonlesional psoriatic skin and skin of healthy volunteers, lesional psoriatic epidermis showed high IL-15 protein expression in the epidermis and enhanced binding activity for IL-15. Therefore, antagonizing the inhibitory effects of IL-15 on KC apoptosis deserves exploration as a novel therapeutic strategy in psoriasis management.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy