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Inflamm Res. 2012 Oct;61(10):1155-65. doi: 10.1007/s00011-012-0510-2. Epub 2012 Jun 23.

Increased Th17 cell frequency concomitant with decreased Foxp3+ Treg cell frequency in the peripheral circulation of patients with carotid artery plaques.

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  • 1Tongji Hospital of Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan 430030, Hubei, China.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE AND DESIGN:

We investigated a possible imbalance between T helper (Th)17 and CD4+ CD25+ forkhead/winged helix transcription factor (Foxp3) T regulatory (Treg) cells in patients with carotid artery plaques.

MATERIAL OR SUBJECTS:

From November 2009 to September 2010, we enrolled 126 males and 104 females with mean age 68.24 ± 6.71 years.

TREATMENT:

Based on carotid artery sonography, the 230 subjects were categorized into three groups: plaque negative; stable plaques; and unstable plaques.

METHODS:

Th17 and Treg cell frequencies, relevant plasma cytokines (IL-17, IL-6, IL-23, and TNF-α), and RORγt mRNA levels were determined.

RESULTS:

Compared to plaque negative, Th17 cells, Th17-related cytokines (IL-17, IL-6, IL-23, and TNF-α), and RORγt mRNA levels were higher with stable plaques, and highest with unstable plaques. The opposite trend was found for Treg cells, Treg-related cytokines (IL-10 and TGF-β1), and Foxp3 mRNA. Th17 cell frequencies were significantly negatively correlated with Treg cell frequencies.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our investigation demonstrated that there is a Th17/Treg functional imbalance in patients with unstable carotid atherosclerotic plaques. Th17 cells may promote atherogenesis, while Treg cells may have a protective role against atherosclerosis plaques. An imbalance of Th17/Treg cells may offer a new direction for the treatment of atherosclerosis.

PMID:
22728962
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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