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J Exp Med. 2008 Jun 9;205(6):1381-93. doi: 10.1084/jem.20080034. Epub 2008 May 26.

In vivo equilibrium of proinflammatory IL-17+ and regulatory IL-10+ Foxp3+ RORgamma t+ T cells.

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  • 1Laboratory of Lymphoid Tissue Development, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique URA1961, Institut Pasteur, Paris 75724, France.


The nuclear hormone receptor retinoic acid receptor-related orphan receptor gamma t (RORgamma t) is required for the generation of T helper 17 cells expressing the proinflammatory cytokine interleukin (IL)-17. In vivo, however, less than half of RORgamma t(+) T cells express IL-17. We report here that RORgamma t(+) T alphabeta cells include Foxp3(+) cells that coexist with IL-17-producing RORgamma t(+) T alphabeta cells in all tissues examined. The Foxp3(+) RORgamma t(+) T alphabeta express IL-10 and CCL20, and function as regulatory T cells. Furthermore, the ratio of Foxp3(+) to IL-17-producing RORgamma t(+) T alphabeta cells remains remarkably constant in mice enduring infection and inflammation. This equilibrium is tuned in favor of IL-10 production by Foxp3 and CCL20, and in favor of IL-17 production by IL-6 and IL-23. In the lung and skin, the largest population of RORgamma t(+) T cells express the gammadelta T cell receptor and produce the highest levels of IL-17 independently of IL-6. Thus, potentially antagonistic proinflammatory IL-17-producing and regulatory Foxp3(+) RORgamma t(+) T cells coexist and are tightly controlled, suggesting that a perturbed equilibrium in RORgamma t(+) T cells might lead to decreased immunoreactivity or, in contrast, to pathological inflammation.

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