To evaluate the modulatory effects of anti-inflammatory agents, dexamethasone (Dex) and cyclosporin A (CsA), on the production of cytokines and chemokines by human corneal cells in vitro following stimulation by the pro-inflammatory cytokine after interleukin 1β (IL-1β).
A human corneal epithelial (HCE) cell line and human corneal fibroblasts (HCFs) were stimulated in culture with IL-1β and treated with Dex or CsA. The gene expression for selected cytokines and chemokines was determined by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). The secretion of cytokines and chemokines was measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
IL-1β enhanced the mRNA and/or protein levels of granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), IL-8, and monocyte chemotactic protein (MCP)-1 in HCE and IL-6, IL-8, MCP-3, and regulated on T-cell activation expressed secreted (RANTES) in HCFs. Treatment with CsA did not inhibit cytokine production in either HCE or HCFs. In contrast, Dex treatment inhibited the IL-1β-induced production of GM-CSF, IL-6, IL-8, MCP-3, and RANTES, but not MCP-1.
These results show that Dex, but not CsA, has direct immunosuppressive effects on the resident corneal cells, HCE and HCFs. This suggests that the clinically observed immunosuppressive effects of topical CsA are mediated primarily through the immune cells.