Immunostimulatory activity of murine keratinocyte-derived exosomes

Exp Dermatol. 2013 Oct;22(10):650-5. doi: 10.1111/exd.12230.


It has long been known that keratinocytes influence cutaneous immunity through secretion of soluble factors. Exosomes, small membrane vesicles of endocytotic origin, have been implicated in intercellular communication processes such as the transfer of tumor cell antigens and the activation of recipient dendritic cells (DC). However, little is known about immunomodulatory functions of keratinocyte-derived exosomes. To address this question, we analysed exosome secretion of the murine keratinocyte cell line MPEK under steady state as well as inflammatory conditions (+/- IFNγ). These exosomes were readily taken up by bone marrow-derived DC (BMDC) in vitro resulting in a matured phenotype, as evidenced by increased CD40 expression as well as by the production of large amounts of IL-6, IL-10 and IL-12. When the transfer of antigen-specific information through exosomes was investigated, it was found that keratinocytes took up antigen (ovalbumin) and transferred it to their exosomes. However, these antigen-harbouring exosomes failed to induce antigen-specific T cell responses via BMDC. Together, this novel biological function suggests that keratinocytes are able to direct unspecific immune processes but do not elicit specific immune responses.

Keywords: exosomes; innate immunity; keratinocytes; skin.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens / metabolism
  • Bone Marrow Cells / cytology
  • CD40 Antigens / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Dendritic Cells / cytology*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Exosomes / metabolism*
  • Inflammation
  • Interferon-gamma / pharmacology
  • Interleukin-10 / metabolism
  • Interleukin-12 / metabolism
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Keratinocytes / cytology*
  • Mice
  • Ovalbumin / metabolism
  • Phenotype
  • Proteomics
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology


  • Antigens
  • CD40 Antigens
  • Interleukin-6
  • Interleukin-10
  • Interleukin-12
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Ovalbumin