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J Immunol. 2011 Apr 1;186(7):4415-21. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1003307. Epub 2011 Feb 23.

IL-9 promotes Th17 cell migration into the central nervous system via CC chemokine ligand-20 produced by astrocytes.

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Department of Neuroimmunology, Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Nagoya University, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya 464-8601, Japan.


Newly discovered IL-9-producing helper T cells (Th9) reportedly exert both aggravating and suppressive roles on experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, an animal model of multiple sclerosis. However, it is still unclear whether Th9 is a distinct Th cell subset and how IL-9 functions in the CNS. In this study, we show that IL-9 is produced by naive CD4(+) T cells that were stimulated with anti-CD3 and anti-CD28 Abs under the conditions of Th2-, inducible regulatory T cell-, Th17-, and Th9-polarizing conditions and that IL-9 production is significantly suppressed in the absence of IL-4, suggesting that IL-4 is critical for the induction of IL-9 by each producing cell. The IL-9 receptor complex, IL-9R and IL-2Rγ, is constitutively expressed on astrocytes. IL-9 induces astrocytes to produce CCL-20 but not other chemokines, including CCL-2, CCL-3, and CXCL-2 by astrocytes. The conditioned medium of IL-9-stimulated astrocytes induces Th17 cell migration in vitro, which is cancelled by adding anti-CCL-20 neutralizing Abs. Treating with anti-IL-9 neutralizing Abs attenuates experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, decreases the number of infiltrating Th17 cells, and reduces CCL-20 expression in astrocytes. These results suggest that IL-9 is produced by several Th cell subsets in the presence of IL-4 and induces CCL-20 production by astrocytes to induce the migration of Th17 cells into the CNS.

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