IL-13 stimulates proliferation and expression of mucin and immunomodulatory genes in cultured conjunctival goblet cells

Johanna Tukler Henriksson, Terry G. Coursey, David B. Corry, Cintia S. De Paiva, Stephen C. Pflugfelder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. To investigate the effects of IL-13 on goblet cell proliferation, differentiation, and expression of mucin and immunomodulatory genes. METHODS. Explants were excised from the conjunctiva of young C57BL/6 mice. Cultures received 200 lL per week of either Keratinocyte media (KSFM) or KSFM supplemented with 10 ng/mL IL-13 and were incubated for 3 (D3), 7 (D7), or 14 (D14) days. Subsequently, cell proliferation was assessed or cultures were immunostained, collected for dot blot, or for reverse transcription (RT) and quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) or for RT-PCR gene array. RESULTS. The cultured conjunctival epithelium expressed goblet cell associated keratin 7 and mucins MUC5AC and MUC2 and when stimulated with IL-13 showed increased proliferation at D3 and D7 (P < 0.05) compared with control. MUC5AC expression was increased in the IL- 13–treated group at D3 and D14 (P < 0.05). IL-13–treated cultures showed increased chemokine ligand 26 (CCL26), chloride channel calcium activated channel 3 (CLCA3), fas ligand (FasL), and Relm-β at D7. All conjunctival cultures expressed MUC2, and its expression was decreased at D3 (P < 0.05) and increased at D14 (P < 0.05) with IL-13 treatment. CONCLUSIONS. This study demonstrated that conjunctival goblet cells are IL-13 responsive cells that produce factors known to maintain epithelial barrier, stimulate mucin production, and modulate immune response in nonocular mucosa when treated with IL-13. The functional significance of IL-13–stimulated factors remains to be determined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4186-4197
Number of pages12
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2015


  • Cell culture
  • Conjunctiva
  • Goblet cells
  • Interleukin-13

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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