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Keywords:

  • Helicobacter pylori;
  • IL-17;
  • IL-23

Abstract

Helicobacter pylori (Hp) infection is associated with a marked infiltration of the gastric mucosa by inflammatory cells. The molecular pathways that control Hp-associated inflammatory reaction are complex, but locally induced cytokines seem to contribute to maintaining the ongoing inflammation. We have previously shown that IL-17 is over-produced in Hp-infected gastric mucosa, and that IL-17 stimulates the synthesis of IL-8, the major neutrophil chemoattractant. Factors/mechanisms that regulate IL-17 expression remain, however, unknown. In this study, we initially expanded our previous data, showing that CD4+ and CD8+ T cells are a source of IL-17 in Hp-infected samples. Since IL-23 enhances T cell-derived IL-17 during bacterial infections, we then assessed the role of IL-23 in controlling IL-17 expression in Hp-colonized stomach. Using real-time PCR and ELISA, IL-23 was detected in all gastric biopsies, but its expression was more pronounced in Hp-infected samples in comparison to controls. Treatment of normal gastric lamina propria mononuclear cells (LPMC) with IL-23 enhanced Stat3 activation and IL-17 secretion, and pharmacological inhibition of Stat3 prevented IL-23-driven IL-17 synthesis. Consistently, blockade of IL-23 in cultures of LPMC from Hp-infected patients reduced Stat3 activation and IL-17 production. Data show that IL-23 is overexpressed in Hp-infected gastric mucosa where it could contribute to sustaining IL-17 production.