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Interleukin 17–producing T helper cells and interleukin 17 orchestrate autoreactive germinal center development in autoimmune BXD2 mice

Nature Immunology volume 9, pages 166175 (2008) | Download Citation


Interleukin 17 (IL-17) is a cytokine associated with inflammation, autoimmunity and defense against some bacteria. Here we show that IL-17 can promote autoimmune disease through a mechanism distinct from its proinflammatory effects. As compared with wild-type mice, autoimmune BXD2 mice express more IL-17 and show spontaneous development of germinal centers (GCs) before they increase production of pathogenic autoantibodies. We show that blocking IL-17 signaling disrupts CD4+ T cell and B cell interactions required for the formation of GCs and that mice lacking the IL-17 receptor have reduced GC B cell development and humoral responses. Production of IL-17 correlates with upregulated expression of the genes Rgs13 and Rgs16, which encode regulators of G-protein signaling, and results in suppression of the B cell chemotactic response to the chemokine CXCL12. These findings suggest a mechanism by which IL-17 drives autoimmune responses by promoting the formation of spontaneous GCs.

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We thank Amgen for providing Il17r−/− B6 mice; E. Keyser and M.L. Spell (UAB FACS Core Facility) for operating the flow cytometry instrument; S. Williams (UAB High Resolution Imaging Facility) for acquiring confocal microscopic images; L. Harrington and C. Weaver for reagents and technical support in the TH-17 polarization experiments; F. Hunter for review of the manuscript; and C. Humber for secretarial assistance. This work was supported by the Arthritis Foundation (H.-C.H.), the American College of Rheumatology program (J.D.M. and R.H.C.), VA Merit Review Grants (J.D.M and R.H.C.), Daiichi-Sankyo (J.D.M.), and the National Institutes of Health (R24 DK64400 to R.G.L.).

Author information


  1. Departments of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama 35294, USA.

    • Hui-Chen Hsu
    • , PingAr Yang
    • , John Wang
    • , Qi Wu
    • , Riley Myers
    • , Jian Chen
    • , Tanja Guentert
    • , Robert H Carter
    •  & John D Mountz
  2. Microbiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama 35294, USA.

    • John Yi
    • , Thuc-vy L Le
    •  & David D Chaplin
  3. Cell Biology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama 35294, USA.

    • Albert Tousson
  4. Pathology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama 35294, USA.

    • Andrea L Stanus
    •  & Robin G Lorenz
  5. Dermatology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama 35294, USA.

    • Hui Xu
  6. Pediatric Pulmonology, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA.

    • Jay K Kolls
  7. Birmingham VA Medical Center, Birmingham, Alabama 35233, USA.

    • Robert H Carter
    •  & John D Mountz
  8. Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, University of Tennessee at Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee 38152, USA.

    • Robert W Williams


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H.-C.H. and J.D.M. contributed to all studies; P.A.Y. was involved in all animal experiments, FACS staining, chemotactic experiments, and all qPCR and RT-PCR experiments; J.W., R.M., A.T., A.L.S., R.G.L. and R.H.C. contributed to all immunohistochemistry staining, imaging acquiring and imaging data interpretation; Q.W. contributed to animal experiments, FACS staining, chemotactic experiments, and ELISA and ELISPOT analyses; J.C. contributed to FACS analysis and adenovirus propagation; J.Y. contributed to T cell polarization experiments and chemotactic experiments; J.K.K. contributed to the generation of AdIL-17 and AdIL-17R:Fc; T.G., H.X. and R.W.W. contributed to the generation of Il17r−/− BXD2 and GFP+ BXD2 mice; T.-v.L.L. and D.D.C. contributed to the studies of SHM analysis.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Hui-Chen Hsu or John D Mountz.

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