T helper (Th) cell subsets secrete cytokines that regulate other immune cells. Interleukin (IL)-17 and IL-22 belong to a new class of cytokines with predominant effects on epithelial cells. Thus, these cytokines are key molecules in several disease processes. IL-17 and IL-22 are released by leukocytes such as Th and natural killer cell populations. Both IL-17 and IL-22 induce an innate immune response in epithelial cells, but their functional spectra are generally distinct. IL-17 induces an inflammatory tissue response and is involved in the pathogenesis of several autoimmune diseases, whereas IL-22 is protective/regenerative. This review juxtaposes IL-17 and IL-22 and describes overlaps and differences regarding their cellular sources, biochemical structure, signaling cascades in target cells, and function.
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