Human mast cells are major IL-22 producers in patients with psoriasis and atopic dermatitis

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2015 Aug;136(2):351-9.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2015.01.033. Epub 2015 Mar 16.


Background: Psoriasis is a systemic inflammatory disease in which IL-17 and IL-22 levels are markedly increased in the skin and blood. The prevalent concept, using skin cells that are isolated from psoriatic plaques and examined after cell expansion and in vitro stimulation, is that IL-17 and IL-22 production essentially results from T cells and the rare type 3 innate lymphoid cells.

Objective: We sought to examine the cellular source of IL-17A and IL-22 at the protein and transcriptional single-cell level immediately after ex vivo skin cell isolation from psoriatic plaques.

Methods: Skin biopsy specimens were collected from patients with psoriasis, as well as from patients with atopic dermatitis. Cell suspensions were prepared by combining mild enzymatic digestion and mechanical dissociation and analyzed for cytokine expression without prior in vitro culture and stimulation. Expression of IL-17 and IL-22 was quantified at the protein and mRNA single-cell level by using flow cytometry.

Results: IL-22 is predominantly expressed by CD3(-)c-Kit(+) cells relative to CD3(+) T cells in lesional skin of patients with psoriasis and patients with atopic dermatitis. Strikingly, we identified c-Kit(+)FcεRI(+) mast cells as major IL-22 producers. The proportion of mast cells that produce IL-22 ranges from 20% to 80% in patients with psoriasis or those with atopic dermatitis. Skin mast cells express IL-22 and IL-17 mRNA. Conversely, IL-17-producing T cells outnumber IL-17-producing mast cells, which also express IL-17 receptor.

Conclusion: Human skin mast cells are previously unrecognized IL-22 producers. We further established that skin mast cells express IL-17. Thus mast cells might play an important role in the physiopathology of chronic inflammatory skin disorders.

Keywords: IL-17; IL-22; Mast cells; T cells; atopic dermatitis; psoriasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • CD3 Complex / genetics
  • CD3 Complex / immunology
  • Cell Count
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / genetics
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / immunology*
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / pathology
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-17 / genetics
  • Interleukin-17 / immunology*
  • Interleukins / genetics
  • Interleukins / immunology*
  • Mast Cells / immunology*
  • Mast Cells / pathology
  • Primary Cell Culture
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / immunology
  • Psoriasis / genetics
  • Psoriasis / immunology*
  • Psoriasis / pathology
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / immunology
  • Receptors, IgE / genetics
  • Receptors, IgE / immunology
  • Receptors, Interleukin-17 / genetics
  • Receptors, Interleukin-17 / immunology
  • Skin / immunology
  • Skin / pathology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / pathology


  • CD3 Complex
  • IL17A protein, human
  • Interleukin-17
  • Interleukins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, IgE
  • Receptors, Interleukin-17
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit
  • interleukin-22