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Mucosal Immunol. 2010 May;3(3):312-21. doi: 10.1038/mi.2009.139. Epub 2010 Jan 27.

Critical role of Th17 responses in a murine model of Neisseria gonorrhoeae genital infection.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Witebsky Center for Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunology, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, USA.


Host immune responses, including the characteristic influx of neutrophils, against Neisseria gonorrhoeae are poorly understood; adaptive immunity is minimal and non-protective. We hypothesize that N. gonorrhoeae selectively elicits Th17-dependent responses, which trigger innate defense mechanisms, including neutrophils and antimicrobial proteins, that it can resist. We found that N. gonorrhoeae induced the production of interleukin-17 (IL-17) in mouse T-cells and Th17-inducing cytokines in mouse and human APCs in vitro. IL-17 was induced in the iliac lymph nodes in vivo in a female mouse model of genital tract gonococcal infection. Antibody blockade of IL-17 or deletion of the major IL-17 receptor (IL-17R) in IL-17RA(KO) mice led to prolonged infection and diminished neutrophil influx. Genital tract tissue from IL-17RA(KO) mice showed reduced production of neutrophil-attractant chemokines in response to culture with N. gonorrhoeae. These results imply a crucial role for IL-17 and Th17 cells in the immune response to N. gonorrhoeae.

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