CD73 is a phenotypic marker of effector memory Th17 cells in inflammatory bowel disease



Purinergic signaling and associated ectonucleotidases, such as CD39 and CD73, have been implicated in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). CD39 is known to be a Treg memory cell marker, and here we determine the phenotype and function of CD73+CD4+ T lymphocytes in patients with IBD. We describe elevated levels of CD73+CD4+ T cells in the peripheral blood and intestinal lamina propria of patients with active IBD. The functional phenotype of these CD73+CD4+ T cells was further determined by gene expression, ecto-enzymatic activity, and suppressive assays. Increased numbers of CD73+CD4+ T cells in the periphery and lamina propria were noted during active inflammation, which returned to baseline levels following anti-TNF treatment. Peripheral CD73+CD4+ T cells predominantly expressed CD45RO, and were enriched with IL-17A+ cells. The CD73+CD4+ cell population expressed higher levels of RORC, IL-17A, and TNF, and lower levels of FOXP3 and/or CD25, than CD73CD4+ T cells. Expression of CD73 by peripheral CD4+ T cells was increased by TNF, and decreased by an anti-TNF monoclonal antibody (infliximab). In vitro, these peripheral CD73+CD4+ T cells did not suppress proliferation of CD25 effector cells, and expressed higher levels of pro-inflammatory markers. We conclude that the CD73+CD4+ T-cell population in patients with active IBD are enriched with cells with a T-helper type 17 phenotype, and could be used to monitor disease activity during treatment.