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Nat Immunol. 2009 Aug;10(8):864-71. doi: 10.1038/ni.1770. Epub 2009 Jul 5.

Identification of a human helper T cell population that has abundant production of interleukin 22 and is distinct from T(H)-17, T(H)1 and T(H)2 cells.

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Department of Immunology, Genentech, South San Francisco, California, USA.


Interleukin 22 (IL-22) is a member of the IL-10 cytokine family that is involved in inflammatory and wound healing processes. Originally considered a T helper type 1 (T(H)1)-associated cytokine, IL-22 has since been shown to be produced mainly by IL-17-producing helper T cells (T(H)-17 cells). Here we describe a previously uncharacterized IL-22-producing human helper T cell population that coexpressed the chemokine receptor CCR6 and the skin-homing receptors CCR4 and CCR10. These cells were distinct from both T(H)-17 cells and T(H)1 cells. Downregulation of either the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) or the transcription factor RORC by RNA-mediated interference affected IL-22 production, whereas IL-17 production was affected only by downregulation of RORC by RNA-mediated interference. AHR agonists substantially altered the balance of IL-22- versus IL-17-producing cells. This subset of IL-22-producing cells may be important in skin homeostasis and pathology.

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