IL-17-producing T cells contribute to acute graft-versus-host disease in patients undergoing unmanipulated blood and marrow transplantation



The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of IL-17-producing T cells, including Th17 and Tc17 cells, on acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD) in patients who had undergone granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF)-mobilised peripheral blood progenitor cell (PBPC) and G-CSF-primed bone marrow (G-BM) transplantation. Allografts from forty-one patients were analysed for IL-17-producing T cells with respect to aGVHD. Furthermore, ten patients with aGVHD onset were monitored for the presence of Th17 cells in the peripheral blood by flow cytometry. Patients who received a higher dose of Th17 cells in the G-BM (>8.5×104/kg, p=0.005) or a higher dose of Tc17 cells in PBPC (>16.8×104/kg, p=0.001) exhibited a higher incidence of aGVHD. An increased Th17 population (up to 4.99% CD4+ T lymphocytes) was observed in patients with aGVHD onset. In contrast, the percentage of Th17 population decreased drastically in aGVHD patients following treatment to achieve partial and complete remission (p=0.013 and p=0.008, respectively). All percentages of Th17 and Tc17 cells were significantly reduced after in vivo G-CSF application. Our results suggested that IL-17-producing T cells contributed to aGVHD. The application of G-CSF in vivo aided in reducing the occurrence of aGVHD through a decrease in IL-17 secretion by T cells.