Homeostatic regulation of epidermal keratinocytes is controlled by the local cytokine milieu. However, a role for suppressor of cytokine signaling (SOCS), a negative feedback regulator of cytokine networks, in skin homeostasis remains unclear. Keratinocyte specific deletion of Socs3 (Socs3 cKO) caused severe skin inflammation with hyper-production of IgE, epidermal hyperplasia, and S100A8/9 expression, although Socs1 deletion caused no inflammation. The inflamed skin showed constitutive STAT3 activation and up-regulation of IL-6 and IL-20 receptor (IL-20R) related cytokines, IL-19, IL-20 and IL-24. Disease development was rescued by deletion of the Il6 gene, but not by the deletion of Il23, Il4r, or Rag1 genes. The expression of IL-6 in Socs3 cKO keratinocytes increased expression of IL-20R-related cytokines that further facilitated STAT3 hyperactivation, epidermal hyperplasia and neutrophilia. These results demonstrate that skin homeostasis is strictly regulated by the IL-6-STAT3-SOCS3 axis. Moreover, the SOCS3-mediated negative feedback loop in keratinocytes has a critical mechanistic role in the prevention of skin inflammation caused by hyperactivation of STAT3.
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