A study of Th17 axis cytokines in a mouse model of cutaneous autoimmunity and of the association of the Human T-cell Leukemia Virus Type I and mycosis fungoides

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Alkhawaja, Mariam Jamal
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Psoriasiform diseases are a group of cutaneous disorders that are characterized by impaired keratinocyte maturation leading to epidermal hyperplasia and thickening of skin. This group of disorders includes psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis (SD) and mycosis fungoides (MF). Psoriasis has been recently shown to be mediated by the pro-inflammatory T helper cell subset, namely Th17 cells, whereas the pathogenesis of SD and MF are still poorly understood. SD is characterized by inflamed skin that primarily manifests on areas populated with sebaceous glands. Interestingly, SD is very common amongst immunosuppressed patients such as those with HIV-AIDS, suggesting the importance of an immune response in the development of SD. Because SD shares common clinical and histopathological features with psoriasis, a disease in which Th17 axis cytokines is known to be involved, and given that Th17 cells and their related cytokines have been implicated in the pathogenesis of a wide range of autoimmune and inflammatory disorders, it is possible that Th17 axis cytokines play a role in the pathogenesis of SD. We explored the involvement of Th17 axis cytokines in a D2C mouse model of psoriasiform disease that shows a high degree homology to the clinicopathological characteristics of human seborrheic dermatitis. IL-6 and IL-23, which are important for the differentiation of Th17 cells, and IL-17 and IL-22, which are the Th17 effector molecules, were measured at both protein and mRNA levels in sera and lesional skin from D2C mice. An immunohistochemical analysis was also performed to detect the presence of IL-17 in D2C lesional skin relative to normal skin from DBA/2 controls. Our data demonstrated significantly elevated levels of IL-6, IL-17 and IL-22 in sera from diseased D2C mice compared to controls and/or convalescent mice. There were no significant differences in IL-23 protein levels in sera from D2C mice compared to those from wild type mice or convalescent D2C mice. RT-PCR revealed a significant increase in IL-23 and IL-17 gene expression in D2C lesional skin relative to normal skin. Gene expression levels of IL-22, but not IL-6, were statistically significant elevated in D2C skin lesions compared to controls, by real time PCR. Our IHC study of IL-17 expression showed an abundance of positively stained mononuclear cells in D2C lesional skin relative to DBA/2 normal skin. Altogether, our data demonstrate that Th17 axis cytokines are elevated locally at mRNA levels for IL-23, IL-17, and IL-22 and systematically at protein levels for IL-6, IL-17, and IL-22. This data lay the foundation for further studies investigating a role for Th17 axis cytokines in the cutaneous inflammatory disease seen in our mouse model of SD and, ultimately, in the development of human SD. Mycosis fungoides (MF) is the most common type of cutaneous T cell lymphoma (CTCL). The etiology of MF is unknown, but there is substantial evidence suggesting a potential role for a yet unidentified infectious agent in the pathogenesis of MF. Many studies have claimed that there is an association between MF and the Human T cell Lymphotorpic Virus Type 1 (HTLV-I); however, the involvement of this virus in the etiology of MF is a controversial topic. In our study, we used nested PCR to explore the association between HTLV-I infection and MF by screening genomic DNA from 114 skin biopsies for the presence of HTLV-I provirus. We also utilized a ViroChip and high-throughput sequencing (HTS), as a case study, to attempt to detect novel virus-specific oligonucleotides that may be associated with CTCL. Our data showed no evidence for HTLV-I proviral integration in the 114 MF samples that were screened using nested-PCR. The ViroChip and HTS results also did not reveal any signature sequence for known or unknown infectious agent in the CTCL case study. Collectively, this data argue against the involvement of HTLV-I provirus in the pathogenesis of MF.
Autoimmune, Inflammation, Th17 cells, Psoriasiform diseases, Treg cells, HTLV-I, Seborrheic Dermatitis, 2C TCR Transgenes, CTCL, Mycosis Fungoides