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Gastroenterology. 2011 Jul;141(1):217-26, 226.e1-2. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2011.03.061. Epub 2011 Apr 7.

Activation of the receptor NKG2D leads to production of Th17 cytokines in CD4+ T cells of patients with Crohn's disease.

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  • 1INSERM, Equipe AVENIR U940 Hôpital Saint-Louis, and Centre de Recherche des Cordeliers, Université Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris 6, Paris, France.



The natural killer group 2 member D (NKG2D) is a stimulatory receptor expressed on a subset of mucosal and peripheral CD4+ T cells in patients with Crohn's disease (CD) and other inflammatory diseases. Ligand activation of NKG2D in patients induces CD4+ T cells to release T-helper (Th) 1 cytokines and become cytotoxic. We investigated the Th17 cytokines produced by T cells that express NKG2D in blood and intestinal mucosa samples from patients with CD.


We isolated CD4+ T cells from peripheral blood and lamina propria samples of patients with CD or ulcerative colitis (UC) and healthy individuals (controls). We analyzed the phenotype and functions of the CD4+NKG2D+ T cells and the cytokines they produce in response to NKG2D stimulation.


In patients with CD, CD4+ T cells that express NKG2D produced high levels of interleukin (IL)-17 and IL-22 and expressed high levels of CCR6, the IL-23 receptor, CD161, and RORC (a transcription factor that regulates expression of Th17 cytokines). CD4+ T cells that produced IL-17 expressed high levels of NKG2D and CD161. Costimulation of NKG2D and the T-cell receptor (TCR) significantly increased production of IL-17 and tumor necrosis factor α by CD4+ T cells, compared with activation of only the TCR. CD4+NKG2D+ T cells also responded to Th17 polarization.


NKG2D is a functional marker of CD4+ T cells that produce IL-17 in patients with CD, via costimulation of the TCR and NKG2D. Reagents developed to block NKG2D might reduce gastrointestinal inflammation in patients with CD.

Copyright © 2011 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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