Send to

Choose Destination
Cell Cycle. 2009 May 1;8(9):1444-50. Epub 2009 May 4.

Treg versus Th17 lymphocyte lineages are cross-regulated by LIF versus IL-6.

Author information

The Transplant Institute, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


Within the immune system there is an exquisite ability to discriminate between "self" and "non-self" that is orchestrated by T lymphocytes. Discriminatory pathways guide differentiation of these lymphocytes into either regulatory (Treg) or effector (Teff) T cells, influenced by cues from the naïve T cell's immediate micro-environment as it responds to cognate antigen. Reciprocal pathways may lead to commitment of naïve T cells into either the protective tolerance-promoting Treg, or to the pro-inflammatory Th17 effector phenotype. Primary activation of CD4(+) lymphocytes stimulates their release of leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF), and Treg continue to release LIF in response to antigen, implying a role for LIF in tolerance. In contrast, interleukin- 6 (IL-6), although very closely related to LIF, promotes maturation of Th17 cells. Here we show that LIF and IL-6 behave as polar opposites in promoting commitment to the Treg and Th17 lineages. Unlike IL6, LIF supported expression of Foxp3, the Treg lineage transcription factor, and LIF opposed IL6 by suppressing IL-6-induced IL-17A protein release. In striking contrast, we found that IL6 effectively inhibited LIF signalling, repressing transcription of the LIF receptor gp190, and strongly inducing axotrophin/MARCH-7, a novel E3 ubitquitin ligase that we discovered to be active in degradation of gp190 protein. In vivo, anti-LIF treatment reduced donor-specific Treg in recipients of foreign spleen cells. Conversely, a single dose of biodegradable LIF nanoparticles, targeted to CD4, successfully manipulated the LIF/IL6 axis towards development of donor-specific Foxp3(+) Treg. The implications for therapy are profound, harnessing endogenous immune regulation by paracrine delivery of LIF to CD4(+) cells in vivo.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Taylor & Francis Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center