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Research Article

Granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor is overproduced by keratinocytes in atopic dermatitis. Implications for sustained dendritic cell activation in the skin.

S Pastore, E Fanales-Belasio, C Albanesi, L M Chinni, A Giannetti and G Girolomoni

Laboratory of Immunology, Istituto Dermopatico dell'Immacolata, IRCCS, 00167 Rome, Italy.

Published June 15, 1997

Lesional skin of atopic dermatitis (AD) harbors high numbers of dendritic cells with enhanced stimulatory capacity for T lymphocytes. In this study, lesional AD skin was shown to stain heavily in both epidermal and dermal compartments for GM-CSF, a cytokine crucial to dendritic cell functions. Keratinocyte cultures established from uninvolved skin of AD patients exhibited markedly increased spontaneous and PMA-stimulated release of GM-CSF compared with keratinocytes from nonatopic controls. Correspondingly, keratinocytes from AD patients showed higher constitutive as well as PMA-induced GM-CSF gene expression. Larger amounts of GM-CSF were produced by AD keratinocytes, also in response to IL-1alpha, but not after stimulation with LPS, lipoteichoic acid, or staphylococcal enterotoxin B. Hydrocortisone reduced GM-CSF gene expression and protein release in both atopic and control keratinocytes. Supernatants from atopic keratinocytes were able to strongly stimulate PBMC proliferation in a GM-CSF-dependent manner. Moreover, conditioned medium from PMA-treated AD keratinocytes, together with exogenous IL-4, could support phenotypical and functional maturation of peripheral blood precursors into dendritic cells. Enhanced production of GM-CSF by keratinocytes may contribute relevantly to the establishment and chronicity of AD lesions, in particular to the increased number, sustained activation, and enhanced antigen-presenting functions of dendritic cells.