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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 May 13;100(10):5986-90. Epub 2003 Apr 29.

IL-17 production from activated T cells is required for the spontaneous development of destructive arthritis in mice deficient in IL-1 receptor antagonist.

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Center for Experimental Medicine and Department of Cancer Biology, Institute of Medical Science, University of Tokyo, 4-6-1 Shirokanedai, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8639, Japan.


IL-17 is a T cell-derived, proinflammatory cytokine that is suspected to be involved in the development of various inflammatory diseases. Although there are elevated levels of IL-17 in synovial fluid of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, the pathogenic role of IL-17 in the development of rheumatoid arthritis remains to be elucidated. In this report, the effects of IL-17 deficiency were examined in IL-1 receptor antagonist-deficient (IL-1Ra(-/-)) mice that spontaneously develop an inflammatory and destructive arthritis due to unopposed excess IL-1 signaling. IL-17 expression is greatly enhanced in IL-1Ra(-/-) mice, suggesting that IL-17 activity is involved in the pathogenesis of arthritis in these mice. Indeed, the spontaneous development of arthritis did not occur in IL-1Ra(-/-) mice also deficient in IL-17. The proliferative response of ovalbumin-specific T cells from DO11.10 mice against ovalbumin cocultured with antigen-presenting cells from either IL-1Ra(-/-) mice or wild-type mice was reduced by IL-17 deficiency, indicating insufficient T cell activation. Cross-linking OX40, a cosignaling molecule on CD4(+) T cells that plays an important role in T cell antigen-presenting cell interaction, with anti-OX40 Ab accelerated the production of IL-17 induced by CD3 stimulation. Because OX40 is induced by IL-1 signaling, IL-17 induction is likely to be downstream of IL-1 through activation of OX40. These observations suggest that IL-17 plays a crucial role in T cell activation, downstream of IL-1, causing the development of autoimmune arthritis.

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