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J Exp Med. 2009 Jul 6;206(7):1549-64. doi: 10.1084/jem.20082584. Epub 2009 Jun 22.

T-bet is essential for encephalitogenicity of both Th1 and Th17 cells.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Ohio State University Medical Center, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.


The extent to which myelin-specific Th1 and Th17 cells contribute to the pathogenesis of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) is controversial. Combinations of interleukin (IL)-1beta, IL-6, and IL-23 with transforming growth factor beta were used to differentiate myelin-specific T cell receptor transgenic T cells into Th17 cells, none of which could induce EAE, whereas Th1 cells consistently transferred disease. However, IL-6 was found to promote the differentiation of encephalitogenic Th17 cells. Further analysis of myelin-specific T cells that were encephalitogenic in spontaneous EAE and actively induced EAE demonstrated that T-bet expression was critical for pathogenicity, regardless of cytokine expression by the encephalitogenic T cells. These data suggest that encephalitogenicity of myelin-specific T cells appears to be mediated by a pathway dependent on T-bet and not necessarily pathway-specific end products, such as interferon gamma and IL-17.

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