The retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cell is a potent regulatory cell that facilitates normal physiologic processes and plays a critical role in a variety of retinal diseases. We evaluated IFN-β production in human RPE cells through TLR signaling and investigated the effects of IFN-β on RPE cells. RPE cells treated with poly(I:C) or infected with an RNA virus produce IFN-β. Kinetic studies revealed that IFN-β levels continue to increase over a 48-h period and this was associated with the up-regulation of IRF-7 gene expression, a known positive feedback molecule for IFN-β production. Microarray analysis revealed that in IFN-β treated cells, 480 genes of 22,283 genes were up or down-regulated by >2-fold. We hypothesize that IFN-β induction during TLR signaling in the retina is an immunosuppressive factor produced to limit immunopathologic damage. Cytokine activation of RPE cells results in the production of the chemokines, CXCL9 and CXCL10, and the adhesion molecule, ICAM-1. Pretreatment of RPE cells with IFN-β resulted in inhibition of ICAM-1 production and elimination of CXCL9 production. This treatment did not alter CXCL10 production. Anti-IFN-β Ab blocked the inhibitory action of IFN-β. Real time PCR analysis revealed that IFN-β treatment inhibited gene expression of sICAM-1 and CXCL9. The results indicate a critical role for RPE cell derived IFN-β in the down-regulation of CXCL9 and ICAM-1 expression in the retina and suggest that the inhibition of CXCL9 is an immuno-suppressive mechanism that protects the retina from excessive inflammation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy