Interleukin-20 is involved in dry eye disease and is a potential therapeutic target

Hsiao Hsuan Wang, Wei Yu Chen, Yi Hsun Huang, Sheng Min Hsu, Yeou Ping Tsao, Yu Hsiang Hsu, Ming Shi Chang

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Dry eye disease (DED) is a common disease in ophthalmology, affecting millions of people worldwide. Recent studies have shown that inflammation is the core mechanism of DED. IL-20 is a proinflammatory cytokine involved in various inflammatory diseases. Therefore, we aimed to explore the role of this cytokine in the pathogenesis of DED and evaluate the therapeutic potential of the anti-IL-20 monoclonal antibody (mAb) 7E for DED treatment. Methods: Clinical tear samples from patients with DED and non-DED controls were collected and their IL-20 protein levels were determined. We established three DED animal models to explore the role of IL-20 and the efficacy of IL-20 antibody in DED. Benzalkonium chloride (BAC)-induced over-evaporative DED, extra-orbital lacrimal gland excision (LGE)-induced aqueous tear-deficient DED, and desiccating stress (DS)-induced combined over-evaporative and aqueous tear-deficient DED animal models were established to investigate the role of IL-20. The anti-IL-20 antibody 7E was established to neutralize IL-20 activity. The effects of IL-20 or 7E on human corneal epithelial cells and macrophages under hyperosmotic stress were analyzed. 7E was topically applied to eyes to evaluate the therapeutic effects in the DED animal models. Results: IL-20 was significantly upregulated in the tears of patients with DED and in the tears and corneas of DED animal models. Under hyperosmotic stress, IL-20 expression was induced via NFAT5 activation in corneal epithelial cells. 7E suppressed hyperosmotic stress-induced activation of macrophages. IL-20 induced cell death in corneal epithelial cells and 7E protected cells from hyperosmotic stress-induced cell death. Blocking IL-20 signaling with 7E protected mice from BAC-induced, LGE-induced, and DS-induced DED by reducing DED symptoms and inhibiting inflammatory responses, macrophage infiltration, apoptosis, and Th17 populations in the conjunctiva and draining lymph nodes. Conclusions: Our results demonstrated the functions of IL-20 in DED and presented a potential therapeutic option for this condition. Graphical Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Article number36
JournalJournal of biomedical science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Dec

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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