Human cytokines activate JAK-STAT signaling pathway in porcine ocular tissue

Elizaveta Fasler-Kan, Natasha S. Barteneva, Sylvia Ketterer, Kerstin Wunderlich, Anca Reschner, Asil Nurzhanova, Josef Flammer, Jörg Huwyler, Peter Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Background The JAK/STAT (Janus Tyrosine Kinase, Signal Transducers and Activators of Transcription) pathway is associated with cytokine or growth factor receptors and it is critical for growth control, developmental regulation and homeostasis. The use of porcine ocular cells as putative xenotransplants appears theoretically possible. The aim of this study was to investigate the response of various porcine ocular cells in vitro to human cytokines in regard to the activation of JAK-STAT signaling pathways. Methods Porcine lens epithelial cells, pigmented iris epithelial cells and pigmented ciliary body cells were used in this study. These cells were isolated from freshly enucleated porcine eyes by enzymatic digestion. Cultured cells between passages 3-8 were used in all experiments. Electromobility shift assay (EMSA), proliferation assay, immunofluorescence staining and flow cytometry were used to evaluate the JAK-STAT signaling pathway in these cells. Results JAK/STAT signaling pathways could be activated in porcine pigmented epithelial ciliary body cells, in pigmented iris epithelial cells and in lens epithelial cells in response to porcine and human interferons and cytokines. All cells showed very strong STAT1 activation upon stimulation with porcine interferon-gamma. Porcine ocular cells also respond to human cytokines; IFN-alpha induced strong activation of STAT1 in EMSA, flow cytometry and immunofluorescence experiments whereas activation of STAT3 was less strong in EMSA, but strong in flow cytometry and immunofluorescence. Human recombinant IL-6 activated STAT3 and human IL-4 activated STAT6. With the help of immunofluorescence assay and flow cytometry we observed nuclear localization of STAT proteins after activation of porcine ocular cells with cytokines and interferons. Human IFN-α had an inhibitory effect on porcine ocular cells in proliferation assays. Conclusion Our study demonstrated that some types of human cytokines and interferon activate intracellular JAK-STAT signaling pathways in porcine ocular cells. We hypothesize that direct stimulation of the JAK-STAT pathway in porcine cells in response to human cytokines will lead to complications or failure, if pig-to-human ocular tissue xenotransplantation were to be carried out. For successful xenotransplantation among other obstacles there must be new approaches developed to regulate signaling pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-480
Number of pages12
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


  • STAT proteins
  • cytokine signaling
  • interferon
  • pig retina
  • xenotransplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Transplantation

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