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J Immunol. 2010 Jul 1;185(1):46-54. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1000356. Epub 2010 May 24.

TGF-beta induces IL-9 production from human Th17 cells.

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Division of Molecular Immunology, Center for Neurologic Diseases, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


The secretion of IL-9, initially recognized as a Th2 cytokine, was recently attributed to a novel CD4 T cell subset termed Th9 in the murine system. However, IL-9 can also be secreted by mouse Th17 cells and may mediate aspects of the proinflammatory activities of Th17 cells. Here we report that IL-9 is secreted by human naive CD4 T cells in response to differentiation by Th9 (TGF-beta and IL-4) or Th17 polarizing conditions. Yet, these differentiated naive cells did not coexpress IL-17 and IL-9, unless they were repeatedly stimulated under Th17 differentiation-inducing conditions. In contrast to the naive cells, memory CD4 T cells were induced to secrete IL-9 by simply providing TGF-beta during stimulation, as neither IL-4 nor proinflammatory cytokines were required. Furthermore, the addition of TGF-beta to the Th17-inducing cytokines (IL-1beta, IL-6, IL-21, IL-23) that induce memory cells to secrete IL-17, resulted in the marked coexpression of IL-9 in IL-17 producing memory cells. The proinflammatory cytokine mediating TGF-beta-dependent coexpression of IL-9 and IL-17 was identified to be IL-1beta. Moreover, circulating monocytes were potent costimulators of IL-9 production by Th17 cells via their capacity to secrete IL-1beta. Finally, to determine whether IL-9/IL-17 coproducing CD4 cells were altered in an inflammatory condition, we examined patients with autoimmune diabetes and demonstrated that these subjects exhibit a higher frequency of memory CD4 cells with the capacity to transition into IL-9(+)IL-17(+) cells. These data demonstrate the presence of IL-17(+)IL-9(+) CD4 cells induced by IL-1beta that may play a role in human autoimmune disease.

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