Purpose of review: Recently, a novel and unique subset of interleukin (IL)-17-producing CD4+ T helper (Th17) cells, distinct from Th1 and Th2 cells, was discovered. The question is addressed as to what extent inflammatory skin diseases are associated with the actions of this newly discovered Th17 cell subset.
Recent findings: Th17 cells are involved in protection against bacterial pathogens. In addition, it is now clear that Th17 cells may also be crucial in the pathogenesis of various chronic inflammatory diseases that were formerly categorized as Th1-mediated disorders.
Summary: In this review, we summarize the current knowledge of IL-17 and Th17 cells and discuss the possible role of IL-17 in the pathology of psoriasis, contact hypersensitivity and atopic dermatitis. Whereas IL-17 may play an important role in the pathogenesis of psoriasis and contact hypersensitivity, its role in atopic dermatitis is still unclear.