Th17 cells in human disease

Immunol Rev. 2008 Jun;223:87-113. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-065X.2008.00628.x.


Our understanding of the role of T cells in human disease is undergoing revision as a result of the discovery of T-helper 17 (Th17) cells, a unique CD4(+) T-cell subset characterized by production of interleukin-17 (IL-17). IL-17 is a highly inflammatory cytokine with robust effects on stromal cells in many tissues. Recent data in humans and mice suggest that Th17 cells play an important role in the pathogenesis of a diverse group of immune-mediated diseases, including psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, and asthma. Initial reports also propose a role for Th17 cells in tumorigenesis and transplant rejection. Important differences, as well as many similarities, are emerging when the biology of Th17 cells in the mouse is compared with corresponding phenomena in humans. As our understanding of human Th17 biology grows, the mechanisms underlying many diseases are becoming more apparent, resulting in a new appreciation for both previously known and more recently discovered cytokines, chemokines, and feedback mechanisms. Given the strong association between excessive Th17 activity and human disease, new therapeutic approaches targeting Th17 cells are highly promising, but the potential safety of such treatments may be limited by the role of these cells in normal host defenses against infection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Graft Rejection / immunology
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / immunology
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immune System Diseases / etiology*
  • Immune System Diseases / pathology
  • Interleukin-17 / immunology*
  • Interleukin-17 / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mycoses / immunology
  • Mycoses / pathology
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition / immunology
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / pathology
  • Virus Diseases / etiology
  • Virus Diseases / pathology


  • Interleukin-17
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition