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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010 Jan;125(1):222-30.e1-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2009.10.012.

Identification of a novel subset of human circulating memory CD4(+) T cells that produce both IL-17A and IL-4.

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  • 1Centre of Excellence DENOthe, University of Florence, Florence, Italy.



IL-17A has been suggested to play a pathogenic role in bronchial asthma and other allergic disorders.


Study of the relationship between human IL-17A-producing CD4(+) T(H) cells (T(H)17) and IL-4-producing CD4(+) T(H) (T(H)2) cells.


T-cell clones generated from the CCR6(+)CD161(+) fraction of human circulating CD4(+) T cells, which contains virtually all T(H)17 cells, as well as circulating CD4(+) T cells from both healthy subjects and patients with asthma, were assessed by flow cytometry for their cytokine production profile.


A small proportion of CCR6(+)CD161(+)CD4(+) T-cell clones showed the ability to produce both IL-17A and IL-4 (T(H)17/T(H)2). T(H)17/T(H)2 clones also produced IL-5, IL-8, IL-9, IL-13, IL-21, and IL-22 and displayed the ability to induce the in vitro secretion of IgE. A very few T(H)17/T(H)2 cells were found among circulating CD4(+) T cells from normal subjects, but their proportions were significantly increased in the circulation of patients with chronic asthma. T(H)17/T(H)2 cells could not be derived from naive umbilical cord blood CD4(+) T cells under any experimental condition. However, when circulating memory CCR6(+)CD161(+)CD4(+) T cells were cloned under appropriate polarizing conditions, T(H)17/T(H)2 clones originated in the presence of IL-4, suggesting that an IL-4-rich microenvironment may induce the shifting of memory T(H)17 cells into T(H)17/T(H)2 cells.


Because of its peculiar functional properties and the increased numbers in the circulation of patients with bronchial asthma, this previously unknown population of T(H)17/T(H)2 cells may play some role in the pathogenesis of this disease.

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