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Antagonistic Effects Of IL-4 On IL-17A-Mediated Enhancement Of Epidermal Tight Junction Function

Matthew G. Brewer, Takeshi Yoshida, Fiona I. Kuo, Sade Fridy, Lisa A. Beck, Anna De Benedetto

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Atopic dermatitis (AD) is the most common chronic and relapsing inflammatory skin disease. AD is typically characterized by skewed T helper (Th) 2 inflammation, yet other inflammatory profiles (Th1, Th17, Th22) have been observed in human patients. How cytokines from these different Th subsets impact barrier function in this disease is not well understood. As such, we investigated the impact of the canonical Th17 cytokine, IL-17A, on barrier function and protein composition in primary human keratinocytes and human skin explants. These studies demonstrated that IL-17A enhanced tight junction formation and function in both systems, with a dependence on STAT3 signaling. Importantly, the Th2 cytokine, IL-4 inhibited the barrier-enhancing effect of IL-17A treatment. These observations propose that IL-17A helps to restore skin barrier function, but this action is antagonized by Th2 cytokines. This suggests that restoration of IL-17/IL-4 ratio in the skin of AD patients may improve barrier function and in so doing improve disease severity.