IL-17 immunity in human type 1 diabetes

J Immunol. 2010 Aug 1;185(3):1959-67. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1000788. Epub 2010 Jun 30.


Th17 immunity has been shown to regulate autoimmune diabetes in mice. IL-17 neutralization prevented development of diabetes when given postinitiation of insulitis but not earlier, suggesting interference with the effector phase of the disease. Islet-cell Ag-specific Th17 cells converted into IFN-gamma-secreting Th1-like cells and caused diabetes in mice recipients. The role of IL-17 in human type 1 diabetes (T1D) is, however, not established. In this study, we show upregulation of Th17 immunity in peripheral blood T cells from children with T1D. This was characterized by increased IL-17 secretion and expression of IL-17, IL-22, and retinoic acid-related orphan receptor C isoform 2, but also FOXP3 transcripts upon T cell activation in vitro. Also, circulating memory CD4 cells from children with T1D showed the same pattern of IL-17, IL-22 and FOXP3 mRNA upregulation, indicating IL-17 pathway activation in vivo. IL-17-positive T cells appeared to be CD4(+) cells expressing TCR-alphabeta and CCR6, and a subpopulation showed coproduction of IFN-gamma. Given the Th17 immunity in T1D, we demonstrated that IL-17 had detrimental effects on human islet cells in vitro; it potentiated both inflammatory and proapoptotic responses. Our findings highlight the role of IL-17 immunity in the pathogenesis of human T1D and point to a potential therapeutic strategy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / immunology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / pathology
  • Female
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / biosynthesis
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Inflammation Mediators / physiology
  • Interleukin-17 / adverse effects
  • Interleukin-17 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-17 / metabolism
  • Interleukin-17 / physiology*
  • Interleukins / biosynthesis
  • Islets of Langerhans / immunology
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism
  • Islets of Langerhans / pathology
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Nuclear Receptor Subfamily 1, Group F, Member 3 / biosynthesis
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Signal Transduction / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / pathology
  • Up-Regulation / immunology*


  • FOXP3 protein, human
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Interleukin-17
  • Interleukins
  • Nuclear Receptor Subfamily 1, Group F, Member 3
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RORC protein, human
  • interleukin-22