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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Apr 14;106(15):6232-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0808144106. Epub 2009 Mar 26.

In vivo activated monocytes from the site of inflammation in humans specifically promote Th17 responses.

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  • 1Department of Immunobiology, King's College London School of Medicine at Guy's, King's College and St. Thomas' Hospitals, London SE1 1UL, United Kingdom.


Th17 cells are a recently defined subset of proinflammatory T cells that contribute to pathogen clearance and tissue inflammation by means of the production of their signature cytokine IL-17A (henceforth termed IL-17). Although the in vitro requirements for human Th17 development are reasonably well established, it is less clear what their in vivo requirements are. Here, we show that the production of IL-17 by human Th17 cells critically depends on both the activation status and the anatomical location of accessory cells. In vivo activated CD14+ monocytes were derived from the inflamed joints of patients with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA). These cells were found to spontaneously and specifically promote Th17, but not Th1 or Th2 responses, compared with resting CD14+ monocytes from the blood. Surprisingly, unlike Th17 stimulation by monocytes that were in vitro activated with lipopolysaccharide, intracellular IL-17 expression was induced by in vivo activated monocytes in a TNF-alpha- and IL-1beta-independent fashion. No role for IL-6 or IL-23 production by either in vitro or in vivo activated monocytes was found. Instead, in vivo activated monocytes promoted Th17 responses in a cell-contact dependent manner. We propose that, in humans, newly recruited memory CD4(+) T cells can be induced to produce IL-17 in nonlymphoid inflamed tissue after cell-cell interactions with activated monocytes. Our data also suggest that different pathways may be utilized for the generation of Th17 responses in situ depending on the site or route of accessory cell activation.

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