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Blood. 2009 Jan 22;113(4):945-52. doi: 10.1182/blood-2008-08-172155. Epub 2008 Oct 17.

IL-17 contributes to CD4-mediated graft-versus-host disease.

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  • 1Department of Medicine and Immunology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10021, USA.


CD4(+) interleukin-17 (IL-17)(+) T cells (Th17 cells) have been implicated in allograft rejection of solid organs and several autoimmune diseases. However, the functional role of Th17 cells in the development of acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) has not been well-characterized. We detected significant numbers of alloreactive CD4(+) donor T cells expressing IL-17, IL-17F, or IL-22 in the lymphoid organs of recipients of an allogeneic bone marrow transplant. We found no differences in GVHD mortality or graft-versus-tumor (GVT) activity between wild type (WT) and IL-17(-/-) T-cell recipients. However, upon transfer of murine IL-17(-/-) CD4(+) T cells in an allogeneic BMT model, GVHD development was significantly delayed behind recipients of WT CD4(+) T cells, yet overall GVHD mortality was unaffected. Moreover, recipients of IL-17(-/-) CD4(+) T cells had significantly fewer Th1 cells during the early stages of GVHD. Furthermore, we observed a decrease in the number of IFN-gamma-secreting macrophages and granulocytes and decreased production of proinflammatory cytokines (interferon [IFN]-gamma, IL-4, and IL-6) in recipients of IL-17(-/-) CD4(+) T cells. We conclude that IL-17 is dispensable for GVHD and GVT activity by whole T cells, but contributes to the early development of CD4-mediated GVHD by promoting production of proinflammatory cytokines.

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