Inhibition of the elicitation phase of contact hypersensitivity by thymidine dinucleotides is in part mediated by increased expression of interleukin-10 in human keratinocytes

Clara Curiel-Lewandrowski, Suraj S. Venna, Mark S. Eller, William Cruikshank, Irene Dougherty, Ponciano D. Cruz, Barbara A. Gilchrest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The production of immunomodulatory cytokines such as interleukin-10 (IL-10) from keratinocytes and other target cells in the skin plays a crucial role in UV-induced immunosuppression. Substantial evidence supports an association between DNA damage and immunomodulation. It is also known that small DNA fragments such as thymidine dinucleotides (pTpT) can mimic several UV-induced effects, including inhibition of the induction phase of the contact hypersensitivity response and up-regulation of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α). To determine whether pTpT also induces IL-10 secretion by keratinocytes, and by inference whether IL-10 production after UV irradiation is a response to DNA damage, we compared the effects of pTpT with those of UV irradiation on primary human keratinocyte cultures. Subconfluent cultures of primary human keratinocytes were treated either with 10 μM or 100 μM pTpT or diluent alone, or exposed to solar-simulated light (100 J/m2 of UVB) or sham irradiated. An increase in IL-10 mRNA expression was observed 6-24 h after irradiation and at 24-48 h after treatment with pTpT. Detection of secreted IL-10 protein coincided with up-regulation of IL-10 gene expression at 48 and 72 h as determined by ELISA. Conditioned media from human keratinocytes treated with pTpT, like that from irradiated cells, significantly inhibited lymphocyte proliferation in the allogeneic-mixed lymphocyte reaction (MLR) assay. To determine whether pTpT mimics the suppressive influence of UVB on the elicitation phase of contact hypersensitivity, believed to result largely from IL-10 release, we compared the effects of topical application of pTpT with those of UVB irradiation on C57B1/6 mice sensitized with dinitrofluorobenzene. Sensitized mice treated with pTpT or UVB irradiation showed markedly suppressed elicitation of ear-swelling responses. These results demonstrate that increased keratinocyte IL-10 mRNA level and IL-10 protein release are among the effects of pTpT and support the hypothesis that pTpT treatment triggers many of the biologic effects of UV irradiation by mimicking UV-induced DNA damage. Finally, regardless of mechanism, the data suggest that topical treatment with pTpT may provide a novel means of suppressing contact hypersensitivity or other lymphocyte-mediated reactions in skin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-152
Number of pages8
JournalExperimental Dermatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2003


  • DNA damage
  • Delayed-type hypersensitivity
  • Immunomodulation
  • Mixed lymphocyte reaction
  • Tumor necrosis factor-alpha
  • UVB-radiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology


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