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J Heart Lung Transplant. 2007 Jul;26(7):669-74.

Interleukin-17 and airway inflammation: a longitudinal airway biopsy study after lung transplantation.

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Department of Allergy, Immunology and Respiratory Medicine, Alfred Hospital and Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.



Interleukin-17 (IL-17) is a pro-inflammatory cytokine produced from CD4+ T cells and is associated with neutrophilia in infection, ischemia-reperfusion injury, and possibly acute and chronic rejection (bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome, or BOS) after lung transplantation (LTx). Everolimus (ERL) decreases acute rejection, possibly via decreasing airway CD4+ cells and neutrophils. This prospective study aims to assess: (1) the possible role of IL-17 as a link between LTx clinical outcomes (such as infection, acute rejection and BOS) and airway immunopathologic measures from endobronchial biopsy (EBB) and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL); and (2) any differences in IL-17 production between ERL and azathioprine (AZA)-based immunosuppression.


This sub-study, from a larger, prospective clinical ERL vs AZA randomized, controlled trial, examines EBB IL-17 expression, relating this to clinical outcomes, BAL and EBB cell counts. EBB IL-17 staining was measured by immunohistologic techniques and expressed as cells per square millimeter of lamina propria.


Thirty-four LTx patients were randomized in a double-blind study (ERL = 19, AZA = 15) and underwent a total of 113 bronchoscopies over a 3-year follow-up period. Twenty-six EBBs were taken from LTx recipients with BOS of at least Grade 0p (10 patients). Univariate associations correlated IL-17 positively with EBB CD8+ cells (R2 = 0.010, p = 0.001) and negatively with days post-LTx (R2 = 0.07, p = 0.002). In a multivariate model, IL-17 variability was explained by: days post-LTx (6.2%, p = 0.02); EBB CD8+ (5.9%, p = 0.02); cytomegalovirus mismatch (6.1%, p = 0.02); BAL lymphocyte percentage (4.2%, p = 0.05); and clinical infection (3.7%, p = 0.06).


IL-17 is associated with the early post-LTx time period and airway CD8+ cells. Unexpectedly, rejection grade, BOS, BAL IL-8 and neutrophil counts are not associated. ERL appears not to directly affect IL-17, despite its effects on CD4 cells.

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