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J Immunol. 2011 Feb 1;186(3):1531-7. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1001723. Epub 2010 Dec 22.

Restricted microbiota and absence of cognate TCR antigen leads to an unbalanced generation of Th17 cells.

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Lymphoid Tissue Development Unit, Department of Immunology, Institut Pasteur, 75724 Paris, France.


Retinoic acid-related orphan receptor (ROR)γt(+) TCRαβ(+) cells expressing IL-17, termed Th17 cells, are most abundant in the intestinal lamina propria. Symbiotic microbiota are required for the generation of Th17 cells, but the requirement for microbiota-derived Ag is not documented. In this study, we show that normal numbers of Th17 cells develop in the intestine of mice that express a single TCR in the absence of cognate Ag, whereas the microbiota remains essential for their development. However, such mice, or mice monocolonized with the Th17-inducing segmented filamentous bacteria, fail to induce normal numbers of Foxp3(+) RORγt(+) T cells, the regulatory counterpart of IL-17(+)RORγt(+) T cells. These results demonstrate that a complex microbiota and cognate Ag are required to generate a properly regulated set of RORγt(+) T cells and Th17 cells.

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