Interleukin-4 and interferon-γ orchestrate an epithelial polarization in the airways

U. M. Zissler, A. M. Chaker, R. Effner, M. Ulrich, F. Guerth, G. Piontek, K. Dietz, M. Regn, B. Knapp, F. J. Theis, H. Heine, K. Suttner, C. B. Schmidt-Weber

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74 Scopus citations


Interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and interleukin-4 (IL-4) are key effector cytokines for the differentiation of T helper type 1 and 2 (Th1 and Th2) cells. Both cytokines induce fate-decisive transcription factors such as GATA3 and TBX21 that antagonize the polarized development of opposite phenotypes by direct regulation of each other's expression along with many other target genes. Although it is well established that mesenchymal cells directly respond to Th1 and Th2 cytokines, the nature of antagonistic differentiation programs in airway epithelial cells is only partially understood. In this study, primary normal human bronchial epithelial cells (NHBEs) were exposed to IL-4, IFN-γ, or both and genome-wide transcriptome analysis was performed. The study uncovers an antagonistic regulation pattern of IL-4 and IFN-γ in NHBEs, translating the Th1/Th2 antagonism directly in epithelial gene regulation. IL-4-and IFN-γ-induced transcription factor hubs form clusters, present in antagonistically and polarized gene regulation networks. Furthermore, the IL-4-dependent induction of IL-24 observed in rhinitis patients was downregulated by IFN-γ, and therefore IL-24 represents a potential biomarker of allergic inflammation and a Th2 polarized condition of the epithelium.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)917-926
Number of pages10
JournalMucosal Immunology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2016


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