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J Immunol. 2004 Sep 1;173(5):3482-91.

IL-17 markedly up-regulates beta-defensin-2 expression in human airway epithelium via JAK and NF-kappaB signaling pathways.

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  • 1Center for Comparative Respiratory Biology and Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


Using microarray gene expression analysis, we first observed a profound elevation of human beta-defensin-2 (hBD-2) message in IL-17-treated primary human airway epithelial cells. Further comparison of this stimulation with a panel of cytokines (IL-1alpha, 1beta, 2-13, and 15-18; IFN-gamma; GM-CSF; and TNF-alpha) demonstrated that IL-17 was the most potent cytokine to induce hBD-2 message (>75-fold). IL-17-induced stimulation of hBD-2 was time and dose dependent, and this stimulation also occurred at the protein level. Further studies demonstrated that hBD-2 stimulation was attenuated by IL-17R-specific Ab, but not by IL-1R antagonist or the neutralizing anti-IL-6 Ab. This suggests an IL-17R-mediated signaling pathway rather than an IL-17-induced IL-1alphabeta and/or IL-6 autocrine/paracrine loop. hBD-2 stimulation was sensitive to the inhibition of the JAK pathway, and to the inhibitors that affect NF-kappaB translocation and the DNA-binding activity of its p65 NF-kappaB subunit. Transient transfection of airway epithelial cells with an hBD-2 promoter-luciferase reporter gene expression construct demonstrated that IL-17 stimulated promoter-reporter gene activity, suggesting a transcriptional mechanism for hBD-2 induction. These results support an IL-17R-mediated signaling pathway involving JAK and NF-kappaB in the transcriptional stimulation of hBD-2 gene expression in airway epithelium. Because IL-17 has been identified in a number of airway diseases, especially diseases related to microbial infection, these findings provide a new insight into how IL-17 may play an important link between innate and adaptive immunity, thereby combating infection locally within the airway epithelium.

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