Psoriasis is a common inflammatory skin disease involving a cross-talk between epidermal and immune cells. The role of specific epidermal stem cell populations, including hair follicle stem cells (HF-SCs) in psoriasis is not well defined. Here, we show reduced expression of c-JUN and JUNB in bulge HF-SCs in patients with scalp psoriasis. Using lineage tracing in mouse models of skin inflammation with inducible deletion of c-Jun and JunB, we found that mutant bulge HF-SCs initiate epidermal hyperplasia and skin inflammation. Mechanistically, thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) was identified in mutant cells as a paracrine factor stimulating proliferation of neighboring non-mutant epidermal cells, while mutant inter-follicular epidermal (IFE) cells are lost over time. Blocking TSLP in psoriasis-like mice reduced skin inflammation and decreased epidermal proliferation, VEGFα expression, and STAT5 activation. These findings unravel distinct roles of HF-SCs and IFE cells in inflammatory skin disease and provide novel mechanistic insights into epidermal cell interactions in inflammation.
Keywords: epidermal hyper-proliferation; hair follicle stem cells; lineage tracing; psoriasis; thymic stromal lymphopoietin.
© 2019 The Authors. Published under the terms of the CC BY 4.0 license.