Background In airway epithelium, thymus and activation-regulated chemokine (CCL17) and macrophage-derived chemokine (CCL22) are induced by defective epithelial barriers such as E-cadherin and attract the effector cells of Th2 immunity. However, the association between the epithelial barrier and CCL17 expression has not been studied in chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyp (CRSwNP). Thus, we aimed to evaluate the expression of CCL17 and its regulation by Th cytokines in nasal polyp (NP) epithelial cells. Methods The expression and distribution of CCL17, CCL22, E-cadherin and/or epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) were measured using real-time PCR, western blot, and immunohistochemistry and compared between normal ethmoid sinus epithelium and NP epithelium. In addition, the expression level of CCL17 was determined in cultured epithelial cells treated with IL-4, IL-5, IL-13, TNF-α, and IFN-γ. Results The expression of CCL17 was decreased in the NP epithelium compared to the epithelium of normal ethmoid sinus, whereas the expression of CCL22 was not decreased. E-cadherin was differentially distributed between the epithelium of normal ethmoid sinus and NP epithelium. EGFR was also decreased in NPs. Interestingly, the stimulation of cultured epithelial cells with Th2 cytokines, IL-4 and IL-5, resulted in an upregulation of CCL17 expression only in NP epithelial cells whereas the expression of CCL17 was increased in both normal epithelial cells and NP epithelial cells by Th1 cytokines. Conclusion Our results suggest that the decreased expression of CCL17 in defective NP epithelium may be closely connected to NP pathogenesis and can be differentially regulated by cytokines in the NP epithelium of patients with CRSwNP.
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