Polarized secretion of IL-6 and IL-8 by human retinal pigment epithelial cells

Clin Exp Immunol. 1998 Apr;112(1):34-43. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2249.1998.00560.x.


A number of cell types situated along interfaces of various tissues and organs such as the peritoneum and the intestine have been shown to secrete inflammatory cytokines in a polarized fashion. Retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells are positioned at the interface between the vascularized choroid and the avascular retina, forming part of the blood-retina barrier. These cells are potent producers of inflammatory cytokines and are therefore considered to play an important role in the pathogenesis of ocular inflammation. Whether cytokine secretion by these cells also follows a vectorial pattern is not yet known, and was therefore the subject of this study. Monolayers of human RPE cells (primary cultures and the ARPE-19 cell line) cultured on transwell filters were stimulated to produce IL-6 and IL-8 by adding IL-1beta (100 U/ml) to either the upper or the lower compartment. After stimulation, the human RPE cell lines showed polarized secretion of IL-6 and IL-8 towards the basal side, irrespective of the side of stimulation. The ARPE- 19 cell line also secreted IL-6 and IL-8 in a polarized fashion towards the basal side after basal stimulation; polarized secretion was, however, not apparent after apical stimulation. The observation that human RPE cells secrete IL-6 and IL-8 in a polarized fashion towards the choroid may represent a mechanism to prevent damage to the adjacent fragile retinal tissue.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cell Polarity*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1 / pharmacology
  • Interleukin-6 / immunology
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-8 / immunology
  • Interleukin-8 / metabolism*
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / cytology
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / immunology
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / metabolism*


  • Interleukin-1
  • Interleukin-6
  • Interleukin-8