Interleukin-32 induced thymic stromal lymphopoietin plays a critical role in the inflammatory response in human corneal epithelium

Jing Lin, Rui Xu, Li Ting Hu, Jia You, Nan Jiang, Cui Li, Chengye Che, Qian Wang, Qiang Xu, Jinghui Li, Guiqiu Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Interleukin (IL)-32, a novel cytokine, participates in a variety of inflammatory disorders. Thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) plays important roles in mucosal epithelial cells, especially in allergy-induced inflammation, through the TSLP-TSLPR (thymic stromal lymphopoietin receptor) signalling pathway. However, the association of IL-32 with TSLP on the ocular surface remains unclear. The present work aimed to assess the functional association of IL-32 with TSLP in the control of pro-inflammatory cytokine levels in the corneal epithelium. Human corneal tissue specimens and human corneal epithelial cells (HCECs) were administered different concentrations of IL-32 in the presence or absence of various inhibitors to assess TSLP levels and localization, as well as the molecular pathways that control pro-inflammatory cytokine production. TSLP mRNA levels were determined by real time RT- PCR, while protein levels were quantitated by ELISA and immunohistochemical staining. TSLP protein expression was examined in donor corneal epithelium samples. IL-32 significantly upregulated TSLP and pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNFα and IL-6) in HCECs at the gene and protein levels. The production of pro-inflammatory molecules by IL-32 was increased by recombinant TSLP. Interestingly, both NF-κB (quinazoline) and caspase-1 (VX-765) inhibitors suppressed the IL-32-related upregulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNFα and IL-6). These findings demonstrate that IL-32 and IL-32-induced-TSLP are critical cytokines that participate in inflammatory responses through the caspase-1 and NF-κB signalling pathways in the corneal epithelium, suggesting new molecular targets for inflammatory diseases of the ocular surface. The effects of IL-32 on cell proliferation and apoptosis were investigated by MTT assays and RT-PCR,respectively. The results demonstrated that IL-32 inhibits cells apoptosis in HCECs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-45
Number of pages7
JournalCellular Signalling
StatePublished - Sep 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Caspase-1
  • Cornea
  • Epithelium
  • Interleukin 32
  • NF-κB
  • Thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP)


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