Extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling is essential for normal development and tissue repair. Although many roles for extracellular proteinases in the breakdown of ECM have been established, the regulations of these proteinases in human tissue are not fully understood. Inflammatory cytokines have been implicated in the regulation of several matrix metalloproteinases. To determine whether these mediators have a similar effect on fibrinolysis and the remodeling of the fibrin provisional matrix, we examined the role of cytokines on the regulation of urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) and tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA) in human skin. In this report, we show that interleukin-8 (IL-8), but not other cytokines tested, is a potent inducer of the 38-kDa uPA in organ-cultured human skin. In addition, the uPA inhibitor, PAI-1, was not affected by IL-8. When primary epidermal human keratinocytes were treated with IL-8, 55-kDa pro-uPA was significantly induced in the conditioned medium. The mRNA expression of uPA in the keratinocytes was found to be constitutively elevated and was not affected by IL-8. To support such a notion, activation of the 5'-flanking promoter of the human uPA gene was measured using the CAT reporter assay. Consistent with the results of mRNA measurement, the promoter is constitutively active in keratinocytes and is not affected by IL-8. In contrast, the promoter construct is neither active in the dermal fibroblasts nor stimulated by the cytokine. This differential transactivation of uPA gene in these cells indicates that keratinocyte-specific factors may govern the basal expression of the gene. These results indicate a complex regulation of uPA expression in epidermal cells.