Cytokine signaling pathway in cystic fibrosis: expression of SOCS and STATs genes in different clinical phenotypes of the disease

Mol Cell Biochem. 2021 Mar 19. doi: 10.1007/s11010-021-04051-2. Online ahead of print.


This was an observational cross-sectional study which was done to assess the expression profile of STATs and SOCS genes in cystic fibrosis. The mRNA was isolated from peripheral blood mononuclear cells of CF patients in exacerbation, colonization and post exacerbation phases of the disease. The relative gene expression level for SOCS 1, -3, -5 and STAT 1, -3,-4,-6 genes was quantified by Real-time PCR. The levels of IL-6 were also measured in the serum by ELISA. The expression of the Th1 pathway associated genes (SOCS1, SOCS5, STAT4 and STAT1) was downregulated while the expression of Th2/Th17 pathway genes (SOCS3, STAT3, STAT6) was upregulated in both exacerbation and colonization phases as compared to healthy controls. The serum levels of IL-6 were also elevated in both the disease groups. After antibiotic treatment, the expression of SOCS5 and STAT4 was increased while the expression of rest of the genes showed downregulation which shows a shift in immune response from Th2/Th17 to Th1. Our results suggest that infection alters the cytokine signaling pathway through modulation of STATs and SOCS genes which is not able to regulate the overstimulation of cytokine signaling further leading to chronic inflammation in CF.

Keywords: Cystic fibrosis; Cytokine signaling; Inflammation; Th1/Th2 cytokines.