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J Immunol. 2010 Feb 1;184(3):1630-41. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0902813. Epub 2009 Dec 21.

Tumor microenvironments direct the recruitment and expansion of human Th17 cells.

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Division of Immunobiology, Department of Internal Medicine, St. Louis University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63104, USA.


Although Th17 cells play critical roles in the pathogenesis of many inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, their prevalence among tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) and function in human tumor immunity remains largely unknown. We have recently demonstrated high percentages of Th17 cells in TILs from ovarian cancer patients, but the mechanisms of accumulation of these Th17 cells in the tumor microenvironment are still unclear. In this study, we further showed elevated Th17 cell populations in the TILs obtained from melanoma and breast and colon cancers, suggesting that development of tumor-infiltrating CD4(+) Th17 cells may be a general feature in cancer patients. We then demonstrated that tumor microenvironmental RANTES and MCP-1 secreted by tumor cells and tumor-derived fibroblasts mediate the recruitment of Th17 cells. In addition to their recruitment, we found that tumor cells and tumor-derived fibroblasts produce a proinflammatory cytokine milieu as well as provide cell-cell contact engagement that facilitates the generation and expansion of Th17 cells. We also showed that inflammatory TLR and nucleotide oligomerization binding domain 2 signaling promote the attraction and generation of Th17 cells induced by tumor cells and tumor-derived fibroblasts. These results identify Th17 cells as an important component of human TILs, demonstrate mechanisms involved in the recruitment and regulation of Th17 cells in tumor microenvironments, and provide new insights relevant for the development of novel cancer immunotherapeutic approaches.

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