Th17 cells and tissue remodeling in atopic and contact dermatitis

Allergy. 2014 Jan;69(1):125-31. doi: 10.1111/all.12351. Epub 2013 Dec 23.


Background: Eczematous skin lesions of atopic dermatitis (AD) as well as allergic and irritant contact dermatitis (ACD, ICD) are characterized by the same typical clinical signs, although due to different causes. In both AD and ACD, the presence of T helper 17 cells which play an important role in host defense, has been reported. Furthermore, IL-17 is involved in tissue repair and remodeling. This study aimed to investigate IL-17 expression in acute eczematous skin lesions and correlate it with markers of remodeling in AD, ACD, and ICD.

Methods: Skin specimens were taken from positive patch test reactions to aeroallergens, contact allergens, and irritants at days 2, 3, and 4. Inflammatory cells as well as the expression of cytokines and extracellular matrix proteins were evaluated by immunofluorescence staining and confocal microscopy.

Results: Allergic contact dermatitis and ICD were characterized by IFN-γ expression, whereas in AD lesions, IL-13 expression and high numbers of eosinophils were the prominent phenotype. Expression of IL-17, but also IL-21 and IL-22, was observed in all eczema subtypes. The number of IL-22+ T cells correlated with the number of eosinophils. Markers of remodeling such as MMP-9, procollagen-3, and tenascin C were observed in all acute eczematous lesions, while a correlation of IL-17+ T cell numbers with tenascin C-expressing cells and MMP-9+ eosinophils was apparent.

Conclusion: The expression of IL-17 and related cytokines, such as IL-22, was demonstrated in acute eczematous lesions independent of their pathogenesis. Our results suggest a potential role for IL-17 in remodeling of the skin.

Keywords: IL-22; Th17 cells; eczema; eosinophils; remodeling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / immunology*
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / pathology*
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / immunology*
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / pathology*
  • Dermatitis, Contact
  • Fibrosis
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-13 / biosynthesis
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Skin / pathology
  • Th17 Cells / cytology
  • Th17 Cells / immunology*
  • Th17 Cells / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-13
  • Interferon-gamma