Th17 cells: The emerging reciprocal partner of regulatory T cells in the liver

Authors

  • Li ZHAO,

    1. Department of Gastroenterology, Renji Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shanghai Institute of Digestive Disease, Shanghai, China
    Search for more papers by this author
  • De Kai QIU,

    1. Department of Gastroenterology, Renji Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shanghai Institute of Digestive Disease, Shanghai, China
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Xiong MA

    1. Department of Gastroenterology, Renji Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shanghai Institute of Digestive Disease, Shanghai, China
    Search for more papers by this author

  • Grant support: This work was partially supported by Shanghai Leading Academic Discipline Project Grant (Y0205, XM) and awards from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (nos 30571730 and 30972751 XM).

Xiong MA, Department of Gastroenterology, Renji Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shanghai Institute of Digestive Disease, Shanghai 200001, China. Email: maxiongmd@163.com

Abstract

T helper cells that produce interleukin-17 (IL-17) (Th17 cells) have recently been identified as the third distinct subset of effector T cells, the differentiation of which depends on specific transcription nuclear factor retinoic acid-related orphan nuclear receptor-γt. Emerging data have suggested that Th17 cells play an important role in innate immunity, adaptive immunity and autoimmunity. Interestingly, there is a reciprocal relationship between Th17 cells and regulatory T cells (Treg), not only in development, but also in their effector function. Transforming growth factor (TGF)-β induces Treg-specific transcription factor Forkhead box P3(FOXP3), while the addition of IL-6 to TGF-β inhibits the generation of Treg cells and induces Th17 cells. It is proposed that the fine balance between Th17 and Treg cells is crucial for maintenance of immune homeostasis. In addition to IL-6, other factors such as retinoic acid, rapamycin, or cytokines (e.g., IL-2 and IL-27) could dictate the balance between Th17 and Treg cells. Since Treg cells play an important role in hepatic immunity with overregulation in chronic viral hepatitis and hepatic carcinoma, and inadequate inhibition in autoimmune liver diseases, graft rejection and acute liver failure, it is reasonable to assume that Th17 cells may play a reciprocal role in these diseases. Thus, future research on the Treg/Th17 balance may provide an opportunity to illustrate the pathogenesis of hepatic inflammation and to explore new therapeutic targets for immune-related liver diseases.

Ancillary