Role of Antigen-Induced Cytokine Release in Atopic PruritusLippert U.a · Hoer A.b · Möller A.a · Ramboer I.c · Cremer B.a · Henz B. M.a
aDepartment of Dermatology, Virchow-Klinikum, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin and bDepartment of Pharmacology, Freie Universität, Berlin, Germany; cUCB Pharma, Braine-l’Alleud, Belgium
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In order to further evaluate the role of cytokines in the induction of atopic pruritus, leukocytes from 10 atopic eczema patients or 10 nonallergic controls were stimulated in vitro with mite or birch pollen antigen for 1 and 4 days. Subjects were prick-tested with the supernatants, and whealing and itching were evaluated 20 and 60 min later. The supernatants were also examined for the contents of GM-CSF, IL-2, IL-6 and IL-8 by ELISA and TNFα. Two hours prior to testing, the antihistamine cetirizine (20 mg) or a placebo tablet were given to the patients according to a randomized, double-blind study protocol. After pricking with antigen-stimulated leukocyte supernatants, 6 of 10 patients but no controls reacted mostly at 20 min with whealing and/or pruritus. In the cetirizine-treated group, no decrease in these skin reactions was seen compared to placebo. Analysis for cytokines showed increased levels of IL-8 in allergen-stimulated samples, with no correlation to the induction of itching or whealing by these supernatants. IL-6 levels were low and variable, and GM-CSF, IL-2 and TNFα levels were always below standard values. These data show that leukocytes selectively release IL-8 in response to in vitro antigen stimulation. They furthermore provide additional support for the concept that as yet to be identified products play a role in atopic pruritus.
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