TH-17 cells in the circle of immunity and autoimmunity


CD4+ effector T cells have been categorized into two subsets: T helper type 1 (TH1) and TH2. Another subset of T cells that produce interleukin 17 (IL-17; 'TH-17 cells') has been identified that is highly proinflammatory and induces severe autoimmunity. Whereas IL-23 serves to expand previously differentiated TH-17 cell populations, IL-6 and transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) induce the differentiation of TH-17 cells from naive precursors. These data suggest a dichotomy between CD4+ regulatory T cells positive for the transcription factor Foxp3 and TH-17 cells: TGF-β induces Foxp3 and generates induced regulatory T cells, whereas IL-6 inhibits TGF-β-driven Foxp3 expression and together with TGF-β induces TH-17 cells. Emerging data regarding TH-17 cells suggest a very important function for this T cell subset in immunity and disease.

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Figure 1: Differentiation of CD4+ T cell lineages.
Figure 2: Selective induction of T cell subsets with TGF-β in association with other cytokines.
Figure 3: The cytokine milieu: a determining factor in the development of the immune response.


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Supported by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (V.K.K.; RG3882-A-1 to M.O.; TA 3014A1/1 to E.B.), the National Institutes of Health and the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation (V.K.K.).

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Correspondence to Vijay K Kuchroo.

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Bettelli, E., Oukka, M. & Kuchroo, V. TH-17 cells in the circle of immunity and autoimmunity. Nat Immunol 8, 345–350 (2007).

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