T helper 17 cells promote cytotoxic T cell activation in tumor immunity

Immunity. 2009 Nov 20;31(5):787-98. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2009.09.014. Epub 2009 Oct 29.


Although T helper 17 (Th17) cells have been found in tumor tissues, their function in cancer immunity is unclear. We found that interleukin-17A (IL-17A)-deficient mice were more susceptible to developing lung melanoma. Conversely, adoptive T cell therapy with tumor-specific Th17 cells prevented tumor development. Importantly, the Th17 cells retained their cytokine signature and exhibited stronger therapeutic efficacy than Th1 cells. Unexpectedly, therapy using Th17 cells elicited a remarkable activation of tumor-specific CD8(+) T cells, which were necessary for the antitumor effect. Th17 cells promoted dendritic cell recruitment into the tumor tissues and in draining lymph nodes increased CD8 alpha(+) dendritic cells containing tumor material. Moreover, Th17 cells promoted CCL20 chemokine production by tumor tissues, and tumor-bearing CCR6-deficient mice did not respond to Th17 cell therapy. Thus, Th17 cells elicited a protective inflammation that promotes the activation of tumor-specific CD8(+) T cells. These findings have important implications in antitumor immunotherapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Interleukin-17 / genetics
  • Interleukin-17 / metabolism*
  • Lung Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation*
  • Melanoma / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / immunology*


  • Interleukin-17