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J Exp Med. 2006 Dec 25;203(13):2785-91. Epub 2006 Nov 27.

Role of IL-17 and regulatory T lymphocytes in a systemic autoimmune disease.

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Department of Pathology, University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


To explore the interactions between regulatory T cells and pathogenic effector cytokines, we have developed a model of a T cell-mediated systemic autoimmune disorder resembling graft-versus-host disease. The cytokine responsible for tissue inflammation in this disorder is interleukin (IL)-17, whereas interferon (IFN)-gamma produced by Th1 cells has a protective effect in this setting. Because of the interest in potential therapeutic approaches utilizing transfer of regulatory T cells and inhibition of the IL-2 pathway, we have explored the roles of these in the systemic disease. We demonstrate that the production of IL-17 and tissue infiltration by IL-17-producing cells occur and are even enhanced in the absence of IL-2. Regulatory T cells favor IL-17 production but prevent the disease when administered early in the course by suppressing expansion of T cells. Thus, the pathogenic or protective effects of cytokines and the therapeutic capacity of regulatory T cells are crucially dependent on the timing and the nature of the disease.

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