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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Jan;123(1):59-66.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2008.10.031. Epub 2008 Dec 3.

IL-17 in atopic eczema: linking allergen-specific adaptive and microbial-triggered innate immune response.

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Laboratory of Immunology, IDI-IRCCS, Rome, Italy.



Patients with atopic eczema (AE) regularly experience colonization with Staphylococcus aureus that is directly correlated with the severity of eczema. Recent studies show that an impaired IL-17 immune response results in diseases associated with chronic skin infections.


We sought to elucidate the effect of IL-17 on antimicrobial immune responses in AE skin.


T cells infiltrating atopy patch test (APT) reactions were characterized for IL-17 secretion to varying stimuli. IL-17-dependent induction of the antimicrobial peptide human beta-defensin 2 (HBD-2) in keratinocytes was investigated.


Approximately 10% of APT-infiltrating T cells secreted IL-17 after phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA)/ionomycin stimulation. Among these, 33% belonged to the newly characterized subtype T(H)2/IL-17. Despite the capacity to secrete IL-17, specific T-cell clones released only low amounts of IL-17 on cognate allergen stimulation, whereas IL-4, IFN-gamma, or both were efficiently induced. IL-17 secretion was not enhanced by IL-23, IL-1 beta, or IL-6 but was enhanced by the S aureus-derived superantigen staphylococcal enterotoxin B. Both healthy and AE keratinocytes upregulated HBD-2 in response to IL-17, but coexpressed IL-4/IL-13 partially inhibited this effect. In vivo, additional application of staphylococcal enterotoxin B induced IL-17 in APT reactions, whereas IL-4, IFN-gamma, and IL-10 were marginally regulated. Induced IL-17 upregulated HBD-2 in human keratinocytes in vivo.


IL-17-capable T cells, in particular T(H)2/IL-17 cells, infiltrate acute AE reactions. Although IL-17 secretion by specific T cells is tightly regulated, it can be triggered by bacteria-derived superantigens. The ineffective IL-17-dependent upregulation of HBD-2 in patients with AE is due to a partial inhibition by the type 2 microenvironment, which could partially explain why patients with AE do not clear S aureus.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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