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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2011 Apr;127(4):1006-13.e1-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2010.11.043. Epub 2011 Jan 13.

Human TH17 cells express a functional IL-13 receptor and IL-13 attenuates IL-17A production.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN 37232, USA. dawn.newcomb@vanderbilt.edu



IL-13 is a central mediator of airway responsiveness and mucus expression in patients with allergic airway inflammation, and IL-13 is currently a therapeutic target for asthma. However, little is known about how IL-13 regulates human CD4(+) T-cell lineages because IL-13 receptor (IL-13R) α1, a subunit of IL-13R, has not previously been reported to exist on human T cells.


We sought to determine whether human CD4(+) T(H)17 cells express IL-13Rα1 and whether IL-13 regulates T(H)17 cytokine production.


Naive human CD4(+) cells were isolated from whole blood, activated with anti-CD3 and anti-CD28, and polarized to T(H)1, T(H)2, T(H)17, or induced regulatory T cells in the presence of IL-13 (0-10 ng/mL). Cell supernatants, total RNA, or total protein was examined 4 days after T(H)17 polarization.


T(H)17 cells, but not T(H)0, T(H)1, T(H)2, or induced regulatory T cells, expressed IL-13Rα1. IL-13 attenuated IL-17A production, as well as expression of retinoic acid-related orphan receptor, runt-related transcription factor-1, and interferon regulatory factor 4 in T(H)17-polarized cells. IL-13 neither inhibited IFN-γ production from T(H)1 cells nor inhibited IL-4 production from T(H)2 cells. Furthermore, attenuation of IL-17A production only occurred when IL-13 was present within 24 hours of T-cell activation or at the time of restimulation.


IL-13Rα1 is expressed on human CD4(+) T(H)17 cells, and IL-13 attenuates IL-17A production at polarization and restimulation. Although IL-13 is an attractive therapeutic target for decreasing symptoms associated with asthma, these results suggest that therapies inhibiting IL-13 production could have adverse side effects by increasing IL-17A production.

Copyright © 2011 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.

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