To cite this article: Kasraie S, Niebuhr M, Werfel T. Interleukin (IL)-31 induces pro-inflammatory cytokines in human monocytes and macrophages following stimulation with staphylococcal exotoxins. Allergy 2010; 65: 712–721.
Background: IL-31 is a cytokine expressed by T cells following activation with cytokines or staphylococcal exotoxins. A major function of IL-31 in atopic dermatitis (AD) is the induction of pruritus in the skin via the IL-31 receptor on sensory nerve cells. However, the regulation of the IL-31 receptor and pro-inflammatory functions of IL-31 in human monocytes and monocyte-derived cells are yet to be studied in detail.
Objective: To investigate the regulation and function of IL-31 receptors in resting and activated human monocytes, macrophages and dendritic cells.
Methods: Human monocytes, macrophages and dendritic cells were stimulated with staphylococcal exotoxins (SEB, α-toxin) or cytokines (IFN-γ, IL-13). IL-31RA expression and regulation were then investigated at both the mRNA and the protein level. Subsequently, functional effects of IL-31 stimulation on cytokine secretion were measured at the protein level.
Results: Staphylococcal exotoxins significantly up-regulated IL-31RA expression on monocytes and macrophages but not on dendritic cells at both the mRNA and the protein level. IL-31 enhanced the secretion of IL-1β, IL-6 and IL-18 and up-regulated CD86 expression. In patients with AD, functional IL-31RA was also detected following stimulation of PBMC with IFN-γ. However, this was not observed in healthy individuals.
Conclusion: IL-31 induces pro-inflammatory effects in activated human monocytes and macrophages. This may have implications for cutaneous inflammation in eczema where an over-expression of IL-31 has been described previously. Moreover, our findings provide a new link between staphylococcal colonization and the worsening of inflammation via IL-31. Further therapeutic considerations may include IL-31 as a target in AD.