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J Clin Invest. 2009 Aug;119(8):2379-87. doi: 10.1172/JCI38813. Epub 2009 Jul 13.

IL-17 and IL-22 are associated with protection against human kala azar caused by Leishmania donovani.

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  • 1INSERM, Unité 906, Marseille, France.


IL-17 and IL-22 have been shown to increase protection against certain bacteria and fungal pathogens in experimental models. However, no human studies have demonstrated a crucial role of IL-17 and IL-22 in protection against infections. We show here that Leishmania donovani, which can cause the lethal visceral disease Kala Azar (KA), stimulates the differentiation of Th17 cells, which produce IL-17, IL-22, and IFN-gamma. Analysis of Th1, Th2, and Th17 cytokine responses by cultured PBMCs from individuals in a cohort of subjects who developed KA or were protected against KA during a severe outbreak showed that IL-17 and IL-22 were strongly and independently associated with protection against KA. Our results suggest that, along with Th1 cytokines, IL-17 and IL-22 play complementary roles in human protection against KA, and that a defect in Th17 induction may increase the risk of KA.

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