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Innate Immun. 2016 Nov;22(8):588-597. doi: 10.1177/1753425916664125. Epub 2016 Sep 22.

IL-21 inhibits IL-17A-producing γδ T-cell response after infection with Bacillus Calmette-Guérin via induction of apoptosis.

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1 Division of Host Defense, Medical Institute of Bioregulation, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan.
2 Beijing Key Laboratory of Drug Resistance Tuberculosis, Beijing Tuberculosis and Thoracic Tumor Research Institute, Beijing Chest Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China.
3 Center for Animal Disease Models, Research Institute for Biomedical Sciences, Tokyo University of Science, Noda, Chiba, Japan.
4 Department of Immunology, China Medical University, Shenyang, China.
5 Department of Oral Microbiology, Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine, Dentistry, and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Okayama, Japan.


Innate γδ T cells expressing Vγ6 produce IL-17A at an early stage following infection with Mycobacterium bovis Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG). In this study, we used IL-21 receptor knockout (IL-21R KO) mice and IL-21-producing recombinant BCG mice (rBCG-Ag85B-IL-21) to examine the role of IL-21 in the regulation of IL-17A-producing innate γδ T-cell response following BCG infection. IL-17A-producing Vγ6+ γδ T cells increased in the peritoneal cavity of IL-21R KO mice more than in wild type mice after BCG infection. In contrast, the number of IL-17A-producing Vγ6+ γδ T cells was significantly lower after inoculation with rBCG-Ag85B-IL-21 compared with control rBCG-Ag85B. Notably, exogenous IL-21 selectively induced apoptosis of IL-17A-producing Vγ6+ γδ T cells via Bim. Thus, these results suggest that IL-21 acts as a potent inhibitor of a IL-17A-producing γδ T-cell subset during BCG infection.


BCG; IL-17A; IL-21; apoptosis; γδ T cells

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