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Keywords:

  • autoimmune response;
  • experimental autoimmune uveitis;
  • interleukin-17;
  • neuroinflammation;
  • neuroprotection;
  • primary neurone culture

Summary

An increase in interleukin (IL)-17A-producing cells, particularly at sites of tissue inflammation, is observed frequently, yet the mechanism is not fully understood. This study aims to dissect the role of IL-17 in autoimmunity-mediated neuroinflammation. The cytokine milieu containing elevated IL-17, which often appears in active states of autoimmunity, was mimicked in vitro by a supernatant obtained from rat peripheral blood monocytes stimulated with phorbol mystistate acetate (PMA)/ionomycin. The application of such inflammatory media on only primary cultured cerebellar granule neurones resulted in significant apoptosis, but the presence of astrocytes largely prevented the effect. The supernatants of the stimulated astrocytes, especially those that contained the highest level of IL-17, achieved the best protection, and this effect could be blocked by anti-IL-17 antibodies. Protein IL-17 inhibited intracellular calcium increase and protected the neurones under inflammatory attack from apoptosis. IL-17, but not interferon (IFN)-γ, in the inflammatory media contributed to astrocyte secretion of IL-17, which depended on the Janus kinase/signal transducers and activators of transcription (JAK/STAT) pathway activation. The astrocytes that were treated with IL-17 alone or with prolonged treatment of the inflammatory media failed to produce sufficient levels of IL-17. Moreover, confirmatory data were obtained in vivo in a monophasic experimental autoimmune uveitis (EAU) in Lewis rats; in this preparation, the high-level IL-17-containing the cytokine milieu was demonstrated, along with IL-17 secretion by the resident neural cells. The antagonism of IL-17 at a late stage disturbed the disease resolution and resulted in significant neural apoptosis. Our data show a dynamic role of IL-17 in the maintenance of homeostasis and neuroprotection in active neuroinflammation.