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J Immunol. 2010 Aug 1;185(3):1544-9. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0904094. Epub 2010 Jun 25.

Tumor-activated monocytes promote expansion of IL-17-producing CD8+ T cells in hepatocellular carcinoma patients.

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  • 1State Key Laboratory of Oncology in Southern China, People's Republic of China.


The proinflammatory IL-17-producing CD8(+) T cells (Tc17 cells) have recently been detected in tumors, but the nature and regulation of these cells in human tumors are presently unknown. We have recently found that IL-17(+) cells are accumulated in human hepatocellular carcinomas (HCC), where they promote disease progression by fostering angiogenesis. In this study, we showed that Tc17 cells constitute a remarkable portion of IL-17-producing cells in human HCC. Although most circulating Tc17 cells were negative for IFN-gamma, >80% of Tc17 cells in HCC tissues were positive for IFN-gamma, and they were enriched predominantly in invading tumor edge. Most CD68(+) cells located in invading tumor edge exhibited an activated phenotype and, accordingly, the activated monocytes isolated from HCC tissues were significantly superior to those isolated from nontumor tissues in inducing expansion of Tc17 cells in vitro with phenotypic features similar to those isolated from tumors. Compared with IL-17(-)IFN-gamma(+)CD8(+) cells, these IFN-gamma(+)Tc17 cells have significantly higher expression of proinflammatory cytokines (IL-2, IL-22, and TNF-alpha), but reduced expression of granzyme B and perforin. Moreover, we found that tumor-activated monocytes secreted a set of key cytokines (IL-1beta, IL-6, and IL-23) to trigger the proliferation of Tc17 cells. These data reveal an intriguing mechanism in which human Tc17 cells are generated by a fine-tuned collaborative action between different types of immune cells in distinct tumor microenvironments.

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