To determine the effect of UVB exposure on the balance of type-1 or type-2 T-cells in skin, we examined the expression of key markers interferon (IFN)-gamma and interleukin (IL)-4 in cryostat sections. IFN-gamma mRNA was clearly detectable in nonirradiated control skin, and IFN-gamma protein was found in 2% of the dermal CD3pos T-cells, whereas IL-4 mRNA was hardly detectable, and no IL-4 protein was found. In contrast, IL-4 mRNA expression increased upon irradiation, and IL-4 was found in 2% of the T-cells at day 2 after UVB-exposure. Concomitantly, IFN-gamma mRNA expression decreased, and IFN-gamma protein became absent. We also analyzed T-cells present in primary dermal cell cultures, which were used as an in vitro equivalent of the in vivo situation. As compared with T-cells from control skin, T-cells in dermal cell cultures from UVB-exposed skin displayed an increased IL-4 and decreased IFN-gamma expression. No such skewing occurred when the T-cells from irradiated skin were cloned in the absence of a dermal microenvironment. Except for an occasional positive T-cell, type-1-associated cell-surface markers (CCR5, CXCR3) or type-2 markers (CCR3, CD30, CRTH2) were undetectable in situ. But these markers were expressed on cultured dermal T-cells from UVB-exposed and control skin at a comparable level, but did not correlate with the IFN-gamma and IL-4 production. Altogether, UVB-induced changes of the dermal microenvironment favor the development of type-2 T-cells.
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