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Keywords:

  • Autoimmunity;
  • IL-17;
  • Infection;
  • Inflammation

Abstract

Recent reports have provided convincing evidence that IL-17-producing T cells play a key role in the pathogenesis of organ-specific autoimmune diseases, a function previously attributed exclusively to IFN-γ-secreting Th1 cells. Furthermore, it appears that IL-17-producing T cells can also function with Th1 cells to mediate protective immunity to pathogens. Although much of the focus has been on IL-17-secreting CD4+ T cells, termed Th17 cells, CD8+ T cells, γδ T cells and NKT cells are also capable of secreting IL-17. The differentiation of Th17 cells from naïve T cells appears to involve signals from TGF-β, IL-6, IL-21, IL-1β and IL-23. Furthermore, IL-1α or IL-1β in synergy with IL-23 can promote IL-17 secretion from memory T cells. The induction or function of Th17 cells is regulated by cytokines secreted by the other major subtypes of T cells, including IFN-γ, IL-4, IL-10 and at high concentrations, TGF-β. The main function of IL-17-secreting T cells is to mediate inflammation, by stimulating production of inflammatory cytokines, such as TNF-α, IL-1β and IL-6, and inflammatory chemokines that promote the recruitment of neutrophils and macrophages.