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Conjunctival interleukin-13 expression in mucous membrane pemphigoid and functional effects of interleukin-13 on conjunctival fibroblasts in vitro.

The American journal of pathology (2009-11-17)
Valerie P J Saw, Ifeoma Offiah, Robin J Dart, Grazyna Galatowicz, John K G Dart, Julie T Daniels, Virginia L Calder
ABSTRACT

Interleukin-13 (IL-13) is the dominant effector cytokine of fibrosis in pulmonary and liver disease. Excessive conjunctival fibrosis in the immunobullous disease ocular mucous membrane pemphigoid (MMP) causes blindness; the pathogenesis of scarring in this disease is incompletely understood. To determine whether IL-13 is involved in conjunctival fibrosis in MMP, we studied the expression of IL-13 in ocular MMP patients before and after systemic immunosuppression and examined the effects of IL-13 on normal human conjunctival fibroblasts. We found high stromal cell expression of IL-13 in active ocular MMP by immunohistochemistry; 80% of these cells were CD3-positive T cells. Following immunosuppression, in clinically uninflamed, treated, ocular MMP patients, the number of IL-13 positive cells was significantly reduced, but this was still fourfold greater than in normal conjunctiva. IL-13 stimulated collagen lattice contraction and migration, and decreased production of mmp-3 and mmp-10 by human conjunctival fibroblasts. The addition of T cell culture supernatant to IL-13 synergistically augmented fibroblast migration. IL-13 also up-regulated surface expression of HLA-DR, CD80, CD40, and CD154 by conjunctival fibroblasts, suggesting a potential mechanism for fibroblast-T cell cross talk, via which fibroblasts may actively engage in perpetuating chronic inflammation and continued fibrosis. Together, these findings suggest that IL-13 is involved in conjunctival fibrosis in MMP, and that IL-13 has both profibrotic and pro-inflammatory effects on human conjunctival fibroblasts.

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