TGFbeta1, a "Jack of all trades": the link with pro-inflammatory IL-17-producing T cells

Trends Immunol. 2006 Aug;27(8):358-61. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2006 Jun 21.


Transforming growth factor (TGF)beta is most commonly considered an anti-inflammatory cytokine, a view that clearly does not correlate with the recently described role for TGFbeta1 in the differentiation of T-helper (Th)17 cells, a novel, highly inflammatory T-cell subset that produces interleukin (IL)-17. However, these recent findings endorse earlier studies, pre-dating the discovery of Th17 cells, which described a seemingly paradoxical pro-inflammatory role of TGFbeta. In this article, we propose that the administration of neutralizing anti-TGFbeta antibodies in target sites of chronic inflammation would ameliorate or abolish disease because this would limit the differentiation of Th17 cells. By contrast, similar interventions at mucosal sites, where Th17 cells seem to have a protective role, might exacerbate disease in experimental models of colitis. An excess production of Th17 cells in response to infection or trauma could result in leakage into peripheral tissues and cause autoimmune pathology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Inflammation / therapy
  • Interleukin-17 / physiology*
  • Interleukin-23 / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / physiology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1 / administration & dosage
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1 / physiology*


  • Interleukin-17
  • Interleukin-23
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1