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Interleukin (IL)-36α, IL-36β, and IL-36γ are innate mediators of acute epithelial inflammation. We sought to demonstrate that these cytokines are also required for the pathogenesis of plaque psoriasis, a common and chronic skin disorder, caused by abnormal T helper 17 (TH17) cell activation. To investigate this possibility, we first defined the genes that are induced by IL-36 cytokines in primary human keratinocytes. This enabled us to demonstrate a significant IL-36 signature among the transcripts that are up-regulated in plaque psoriasis and the susceptibility loci associated with the disease in genome-wide studies. Next, we investigated the impact of in vivo and ex vivo IL-36 receptor blockade using a neutralizing antibody or a recombinant antagonist. Both inhibitors had marked anti-inflammatory effects on psoriatic skin, demonstrated by statistically significant reductions in IL-17 expression, keratinocyte activation, and leukocyte infiltration. Finally, we explored the potential safety profile associated with IL-36 blockade by phenotyping 12 individuals carrying knockout mutations of the IL-36 receptor gene. We found that normal immune function was broadly preserved in these individuals, suggesting that IL-36 signaling inhibition would not substantially compromise host defenses. These observations, which integrate the results of transcriptomics and model system analysis, pave the way for early-stage clinical trials of IL-36 antagonists.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereaan2514
JournalScience Translational Medicine
Issue number411
Early online date11 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 11 Oct 2017


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