NF-кB perturbation reveals unique immunomodulatory functions in Prx1+ fibroblasts that promote development of atopic dermatitis

Kang I. Ko, Jean J. Merlet, Brett P. DerGarabedian, Huang Zhen, Yoko Suzuki-Horiuchi, Matthew L. Hedberg, Eileen Hu, Anh T. Nguyen, Stephen Prouty, Faizan Alawi, Matthew C. Walsh, Yongwon Choi, Sarah E. Millar, Ashley Cliff, Jonathon Romero, Michael R. Garvin, John T. Seykora, Daniel Jacobson, Dana T. Graves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Skin is composed of diverse cell populations that cooperatively maintain homeostasis. Up-regulation of the nuclear factor кB (NF-кB) pathway may lead to the development of chronic inflammatory disorders of the skin, but its role during the early events remains unclear. Through analysis of single-cell RNA sequencing data via iterative random forest leave one out prediction, an explainable artificial intelligence method, we identified an immunoregulatory role for a unique paired related homeobox-1 (Prx1)+ fibroblast subpopulation. Disruption of Ikkb-NF-кB under homeostatic conditions in these fibroblasts paradoxically induced skin inflammation due to the overexpression of C-C motif chemokine ligand 11 (CCL11; or eotaxin-1) characterized by eosinophil infiltration and a subsequent TH2 immune response. Because the inflammatory phenotype resembled that seen in human atopic dermatitis (AD), we examined human AD skin samples and found that human AD fibroblasts also overexpressed CCL11 and that perturbation of Ikkb-NF-кB in primary human dermal fibroblasts up-regulated CCL11. Monoclonal antibody treatment against CCL11 was effective in reducing the eosinophilia and TH2 inflammation in a mouse model. Together, the murine model and human AD specimens point to dysregulated Prx1+ fibroblasts as a previously unrecognized etiologic factor that may contribute to the pathogenesis of AD and suggest that targeting CCL11 may be a way to treat AD-like skin lesions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereabj0324
JournalScience Translational Medicine
Issue number630
StatePublished - 2 Feb 2022


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