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Eur J Immunol. 2010 Dec;40(12):3336-46. doi: 10.1002/eji.201040755.

Genetic proof for the transient nature of the Th17 phenotype.

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Institute for Molecular Medicine, University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, Mainz, Germany.


IL-17-producing CD4(+) T cells (Th17) have been classified as a new T helper cell subset. Using an IL-17 fate mapping mouse strain, which genetically fixes the memory of IL-17 expression, we demonstrate that IL-17A/F-expressing T helper cells generated either in vitro or in vivo are not a stable T-cell subset. Upon adoptive transfer of IL-17F-reporter-positive Th17 cells to RAG-deficient or WT animals, encephalitogenic Th17 cells partially lose IL-17 expression and upregulate IFN-γ. Additionally, we show that Th1 cells can convert in vivo to IL-17A/IFN-γ-coexpressing cells in the mesenteric lymph nodes (mLN). Our data classify IL-17A and IL-17F as cytokines produced transiently in response to the local microenvironment, thus showing that IL-17 expression does not define an end-stage T helper cell subset.

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