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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Immunomodulatory effects of LL-37 in the epithelia Filewod, Niall Christopher Jack


The cationic host defence peptide LL-37 is an immunomodulatory agent that plays an important role in epithelial innate immunity. Previously, concentrations of LL-37 thought to represent levels present during inflammation have been shown to elicit the production of cytokines and chemokines by epithelial cells. To investigate the potential of lower concentrations of LL-37 to alter epithelial cell responses, normal primary keratinocytes and bronchial epithelial cells were treated with pro-inflammatory stimuli in the presence or absence of 1 – 3 μg/ml LL-37. Low, physiologically relevant concentrations of LL-37 synergistically increased IL-8 production by both proliferating and differentiated keratinocytes in response to IL-1β and the TLR5 agonist flagellin, and synergistically increased IL-8 production by bronchial epithelial cells in response to IL-1β, flagellin, and the TLR2/1 agonist PAM3CSK4. Treatment of bronchial epithelial cells with LL-37 and the TLR3 agonist poly(I:C) resulted in synergistic increases in IL-8 release and cytotoxicity. The synergistic increase in IL-8 production observed when keratinocytes were co-stimulated with flagellin and LL-37 was suppressed by pretreatment with inhibitors of Src-family kinase signalling and NF-κB translocation. These data suggest that low concentrations of LL-37 may alter epithelial responses to microbes in vivo. Microarray analysis of keratinocyte transcriptional responses after LL-37 treatment suggest that LL-37 may alter the expression of growth factors and a number of genes important to innate immune responses. LL-37 may thus play a more important role than previously suspected in the regulation of epithelial inflammation; an improved understanding of the mechanisms by which LL-37 alters chemokine responses could lead to the development of novel anti-infective and anti-inflammatory therapeutics.

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