Keloids are considered the manifestation of a fibroproliferative disease characterized by chronic inflammation that is induced following skin injury. Deciphering the underlying mechanism of keloid formation is essential for improving treatment outcomes. Here, we found that more macrophages were activated toward the M2 subtype in keloid dermis when compared with normal dermis. Western blotting revealed that the level of phosphorylated STAT6 (p-STAT6), a known inducer of M2 polarization, was higher in keloid fibroblasts as opposed to fibroblasts from normal dermis. Moreover, keloid fibrosis was shown to be positively correlated with the level of p-STAT6. Further, we identified downregulation of IL-13RA2, a decoy receptor for IL-13, in keloid fibroblasts compared with fibroblasts from normal dermis. Ectopic expression of IL-13RA2 in keloid fibroblasts resulted in inhibition of STAT6 phosphorylation, cell proliferation, migration, invasion, extracellular matrix secretion, and myofibroblast marker expression, as well as an increase in apoptosis. Consistently, knockdown of IL-13RA2 in normal fibroblasts induced a keloidal status. Furthermore, both in vitro application and intratumoral injection of p-STAT6 inhibitor AS1517499 in a patient-derived xenograft keloid-implantation mouse model resulted in proliferation inhibition and tissue necrosis, apoptosis, and myofibroblast marker reduction. Collectively, this study elucidates the key role of IL-13RA2 in keloid pathology and inspires further translational research of keloid treatment concerning JAK/STAT6 inhibition.


Hua Chao, Lisheng Zheng, Pojui Hsu, Jinyun He, Ridong Wu, Shuqia Xu, Ruixi Zeng, Yuan Zhou, Huisi Ma, Haibo Liu, Qing Tang


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