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J Immunol. 1999 Feb 1;162(3):1246-51.

IL-17 is produced by some proinflammatory Th1/Th0 cells but not by Th2 cells.

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  • 1Institute of Immunology, Laboratory of Rheumatology Research, The National Hospital, Oslo, Norway. tanja.aarvak@labmed.uio.no


IL-17 is defined as a proinflammatory cytokine and produced by activated CD4+ T cells. In rheumatoid arthritis synovial tissue, high levels of IL-17 contribute to IL-6 production by synoviocytes. The present study was performed to see whether Th cells that produce IL-17 are associated with the Th1, Th2, or Th0 subset. Thirty-three CD4+, alphabeta+ T cell clones were developed from synovial membranes and synovial fluid of rheumatoid arthritis patients. Thirteen clones were defined as Th1 since they produced IFN-gamma but not IL-4, and four clones were defined as Th0 type that produced both IL-4 and IFN-gamma. Sixteen clones were defined as Th2 since they produced high levels of IL-4 and/or IL-10 but not IFN-gamma. IL-17 was measured in a bioassay, where IL-6 production from synoviocytes was a measurement for IL-17 activity in the presence and absence of blocking anti-IL-17 mAb. Three Th1 clones and two Th0 clones produced IL-17. In contrast, none of the sixteen Th2 clones analyzed produced IL-17. In addition, six Th2 clones were further cultured in conditions that induced a switch to Th1 type. Induction of this Th1 phenotype also led to production of IL-17 in two of these clones. The results demonstrate that some cells of the Th1/Th0 phenotype produce IL-17 but not cells of the Th2 phenotype. Thus, IL-17 may define a new subset of T cells, and IL-17 production appears to be a mechanism for Th1/Th0 cells, the most frequent Th subtype present in the rheumatoid synovium, to contribute to the local inflammatory reactions.

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