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J Leukoc Biol. 2009 Aug;86(2):435-43. doi: 10.1189/JLB.0109046.

IL-17-producing CD8+ T lymphocytes from psoriasis skin plaques are cytotoxic effector cells that secrete Th17-related cytokines.

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Unidad de Inmunología, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Córdoba, Córdoba, Spain.


IL-17-producing CD4+ T lymphocytes (Th17) are currently considered relevant participants in the pathogenesis of psoriasis skin lesions. However, little is known about the potential role of IL-17-producing CD8+ T cells, which are also present at the psoriatic plaque. We have addressed the functional characterization of this CD8+ subtype of T lymphocytes from psoriasis patients. Our results show that CD8+IL-17+ cells from psoriasis-inflamed skin tissue produce TNF-alpha and IFN-gamma (Th1-related cytokines) as well as IL-17, IL-21, and IL-22 (Th17-related cytokines) efficiently. A significant up-regulation of the RORC transcription factor is also observed. These cells are refractory to Tregs but show a proliferative response to anti-CD3/CD28 stimulation that is enhanced by IL-12 and IL-15. Blocking of TNF-alpha activity inhibits TCR-mediated activation and IL-17 production. CD8+IL-17+ T cells are cytotoxic cells that display TCR/CD3-mediated cytotoxic abilities to kill target cells. Thus, CD8+IL-17+ T cells share some key features with Th17 cells and exhibit remarkable differential abilities attributable to the CD8+ lineage of T lymphocytes, adding new insights into the functional resources of IL-17-producing cells from human epidermis that could be of potential interest to our understanding of the pathogenesis of psoriasis.

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