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Am J Transplant. 2011 Jun;11(6):1248-59. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-6143.2011.03529.x.

IL-17 expression by tubular epithelial cells in renal transplant recipients with acute antibody-mediated rejection.

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Renal, Dialysis and Transplantation Unit, Department of Emergency and Organ Transplantation, University of Bari, Bari.


Acute rejection is still a common complication of kidney transplantation. IL-17 is known to be associated with allograft rejection but the cellular source and the role of this cytokine remains unclear. We investigated IL-17 graft expression in renal transplant recipients with acute antibody-mediated rejection (ABMR), acute T-cell-mediated rejection (TCMR), interstitial fibrosis and tubular atrophy (IFTA) and acute tubular damage due to calcineurin-inhibitor toxicity (CNI). In acute ABMR, tubular IL-17 protein expression was significantly increased compared to TCMR, where most of the IL-17⁺ cells were CD4⁺ graft infiltrating lymphocytes, IFTA and CNI control groups. The tubular expression of IL-17 in acute ABMR colocalized with JAK2 phosphorylation and peritubular capillaries C4d deposition. In addition, IL-17 tubular expression was directly and significantly correlated with the extension of C4d deposits. In cultured proximal tubular cells, C3a induced IL-17 gene and protein expression along with an increased in JAK2 phosphorylation. The inhibition of JAK2 abolished C3a-induced IL-17 expression. The use of steroids and monoclonal antibodies reduced IL-17 expression, JAK2 phosphorylation and C4d deposition in acute ABMR patients. Our data suggest that tubular cells represent a significant source of IL-17 in ABMR and this event might be mediated by the complement system activation featuring this condition.

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