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J Immunol. 2010 Feb 15;184(4):1675-9. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0903539. Epub 2010 Jan 8.

Cutting edge: spontaneous development of IL-17-producing gamma delta T cells in the thymus occurs via a TGF-beta 1-dependent mechanism.

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  • 1Department of Immunology, Lerner Research Institute, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA.


In naive animals, gammadelta T cells are innate sources of IL-17, a potent proinflammatory cytokine mediating bacterial clearance as well as autoimmunity. However, mechanisms underlying the generation of these cells in vivo remain unclear. In this study, we show that TGF-beta1 plays a key role in the generation of IL-17(+) gammadelta T cells and that it mainly occurs in the thymus particularly during the postnatal period. Interestingly, IL-17(+) gammadelta TCR(+) thymocytes were mainly CD44(high)CD25(low) cells, which seem to derive from double-negative 4 gammadelta TCR(+) cells that acquired CD44 and IL-17 expression. Our findings identify a novel developmental pathway during which IL-17-competent gammadelta T cells arise in the thymus by a TGF-beta1-dependent mechanism.

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