Résumé : One of the mechanisms proposed to explain immunomodulatory actions of ultraviolet light (UV) is production of endogenous anti-inflammatory cytokines. The purpose of the present study is to evaluate how UV light affects the production of IL-10 and IL-1Ra and to provide insight as to the role of phagocytosis of apoptotic lymphocytes in this process. Cytokine production was evaluated in a coculture system consisting in UV-treated lymphocytes in the presence of autologous PBMC. The impact of phagocytosis was tested by two blocking agents cytochalasin E and anti-CD36 mAb. The apoptotic process affecting irradiated lymphocytes was progressive, culminating at 48 h. To achieve significant cytokine production, irradiated lymphocytes were incubated overnight at 37 degrees C. Coculture of apoptotic lymphocytes with autologous PBMC resulted in a significant increase of IL-1Ra mRNA (+340%; P = 0.001) and protein (+72%; P = 0.001) production. This synthesis was blocked by cytochalasin E but upregulated by CD36 receptor cross-linking. Our study shows that UV light induces lymphocyte apoptosis followed by its phagocytosis by monocyte/macrophages, a step that preferentially activates IL-1Ra.