IL-23 promotes CD4+ T cells to produce IL-17 in Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada disease

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2007 May;119(5):1218-24. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2007.01.010. Epub 2007 Mar 1.


Background: Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada (VKH) disease is a systemic refractory autoimmune disease. IL-23 has been thought to play a critical role in autoimmune disease through inducing the development of IL-17-producing CD4(+) T cells.

Objective: To investigate the expression of IL-23 and IL-17 and the influence of IL-23 on IL-17 production in patients with VKH disease.

Methods: Blood samples were taken from 25 patients with VKH disease and 16 healthy controls. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were subjected to analysis of IL-23p19 mRNA and IL-23 protein expression using RT-PCR and ELISA, respectively. The IL-17 levels in the supernatants of PBMCs and CD4(+) T cells cultured in the absence or presence of recombinant (r)IL-23, rIL-12, or anti-IFN-gamma were determined by ELISA.

Results: The patients with VKH disease with active uveitis showed an elevated level of IL-23p19 mRNA in PBMCs, higher IL-23 in the serum and supernatants of PBMCs, and increased production of IL-17 by polyclonally stimulated PBMCs and CD4(+) T cells. Recombinant IL-23 significantly enhanced IL-17 production, whereas rIL-12 and IFN-gamma inhibited IL-17 production. More importantly, IL-17 production was significantly increased in patients with active uveitis in the presence of rIL-23. Both rIL-23 and rIL-12 enhanced IFN-gamma production.

Conclusion: The results suggest that IL-23-stimulated production of IL-17 by CD4(+) T cells may be responsible for the development of uveitis seen in patients with VKH disease.

Clinical implications: This study provides a new insight into the mechanism involved in the development of VKH disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / immunology
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Interleukin-17 / immunology
  • Interleukin-17 / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-23 / immunology
  • Interleukin-23 / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-4 / immunology
  • Interleukin-4 / metabolism
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / immunology
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / metabolism
  • Male
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Uveomeningoencephalitic Syndrome / immunology
  • Uveomeningoencephalitic Syndrome / metabolism*


  • Interleukin-17
  • Interleukin-23
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Interleukin-4
  • Interferon-gamma