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Scand J Immunol. 2011 Mar;73(3):243-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3083.2010.02498.x.

Interleukin-15 induces interleukin-17 production by synovial T cell lines from patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

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1
Centre for Immune Regulation, Institute of Immunology, University of Oslo and Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway. eirikhha@rr-research.no

Abstract

IL-17-producing T cells (Th17 cells) are believed to contribute to local inflammation and joint damage in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Limited data exist on Th17 cells located within the inflamed synovial tissue (ST) of patients with RA. Here, we aimed to generate polyclonal T cell lines (TCLs) from the RA ST and assess their cytokine production, including the effects of exogenous IL-15 on IL-17 production in vitro. For five patients with RA, polyclonal TCLs were established from ST obtained by joint surgery. Synovial TCLs were expanded and stimulated by anti-CD3/CD28 microbeads and exogenous cytokines. Cytokine production was assessed by culture supernatant analyses and intracellular flow cytometry, and TCLs were sorted based on their surface expression of CCR6. In addition to IL-17, we detected IL-6, IL-10, IFN-γ and TNF-α in the synovial TCL culture supernatants. Exogenous IL-15 increased the production of IL-17 as well as the other cytokines except IFN-γ. For IL-17, this effect was more pronounced after prolonged culture times. Intracellular flow cytometry confirmed the presence of IL-17+ and IL-17+ IFN-γ+ CD4+ T cells in the TCLs. IL-17+ and IL-17+ IFN-γ+ T cells were enriched in the CD4+ CCR6+ population. In conclusion, Th17 cells can be detected after polyclonal expansion and stimulation of RA synovial TCLs generated by joint surgery. The Th17 cells from the RA ST were enriched in the CD4+ CCR6+ population, and they were sensitive to exogenous IL-15. Th17 cells present within the synovial compartment may contribute to the RA pathogenesis and local joint damage.

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