Interleukin-25 promotes basic fibroblast growth factor expression by human endothelial cells through interaction with IL-17RB, but not IL-17RA



Yunqing An and Sun Ying, Department of Immunology, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China and King's College London, M RC & Asthma UK Centre in Allergic Mechanisms of Asthma, Division of Asthma, Allergy & Lung Biology, London, UK.




Unlike other IL-17 family members, the Th2-derived cytokine IL-25 (IL-17E) induces (promotes) Th2 responses. One or both of the two receptors for IL-25 (IL-17RA, IL-17RB) is expressed on inflammatory cells and tissue structural cells, suggesting that in addition to promoting Th2-type inflammation IL-25 may also act on structural cells at sites of Th2-type inflammation such as in the asthmatic bronchial mucosa to promote remodelling changes.


Our previous studies showed elevated expression of IL-25 and IL-17RB immunoreactivity in asthmatic airways with co-localization of the latter to endothelial cells. We therefore hypothesized that IL-25 acts on endothelial cells through this receptor to induce production of the key angiogenic and remodelling cytokine basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF).


Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) immunocytochemistry/immunohistochemistry and ELISA were employed to detect expression of IL-17RB, IL-17RA and bFGF by human vascular endothelial cells (HUVEC) and immunoreactivity for IL-25 and bFGF in asthmatic bronchial biopsies. Receptor-blocking antibodies, PCR and an in vitro angiogenesis assay were used to investigate whether IL-25 acts on IL-17RB or IL-17RA to induce bFGF expression and angiogenesis. PCR was also employed to investigate the signalling pathways involved in IL-25-mediated bFGF expression.


HUVEC constitutively expressed IL-17RB, IL-17RA and bFGF. Production of the latter was further increased by IL-25, but attenuated after blockade of the IL-17RB, but not the IL-17RA receptor. Neutralization of endogenous VEGF and bFGF completely abrogated IL-25-induced angiogenesis which was also inhibited by blocking IL-17RB, but not IL-17RA. The PI3K-specific inhibitor LY294002 also completely attenuated IL-25-induced bFGF expression. Immunoreactivity for IL-25 and bFGF was elevated in the asthmatic bronchial mucosa and the expression of each correlated with the other.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance

Our data support the hypothesis that IL-25 contributes to elevated bFGF in asthmatic airways by acting on the endothelial cell IL-17RB receptor through PI3K-signalling pathways. Targeting the pathways might benefit therapy of airways remodelling.