IL-17-induced pulmonary pathogenesis during respiratory viral infection and exacerbation of allergic disease

Am J Pathol. 2011 Jul;179(1):248-58. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2011.03.003. Epub 2011 May 3.


Severe respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections are characterized by airway epithelial cell damage, mucus hypersecretion, and Th2 cytokine production. Less is known about the role of IL-17. We observed increased IL-6 and IL-17 levels in tracheal aspirate samples from severely ill infants with RSV infection. In a mouse model of RSV infection, time-dependent increases in pulmonary IL-6, IL-23, and IL-17 expression were observed. Neutralization of IL-17 during infection and observations from IL-17(-/-) knockout mice resulted in significant inhibition of mucus production during RSV infection. RSV-infected animals treated with anti-IL-17 had reduced inflammation and decreased viral load, compared with control antibody-treated mice. Blocking IL-17 during infection resulted in significantly increased RSV-specific CD8 T cells. Factors associated with CD8 cytotoxic T lymphocytes, T-bet, IFN-γ, eomesodermin, and granzyme B were significantly up-regulated after IL-17 blockade. Additionally, in vitro analyses suggest that IL-17 directly inhibits T-bet, eomesodermin, and IFN-γ in CD8 T cells. The role of IL-17 was also investigated in RSV-induced exacerbation of allergic airway responses, in which neutralization of IL-17 led to a significant decrease in the exacerbated disease, including reduced mucus production and Th2 cytokines, with decreased viral proteins. Taken together, our data demonstrate that IL-17 plays a pathogenic role during RSV infections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacology
  • Blotting, Western
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / virology
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Granzymes / genetics
  • Granzymes / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / metabolism
  • Hypersensitivity / pathology*
  • Hypersensitivity / virology
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Inflammation / pathology*
  • Inflammation / virology
  • Interferon-gamma / genetics
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Interleukin-17 / physiology*
  • Interleukin-23 / metabolism
  • Lung Diseases / metabolism
  • Lung Diseases / pathology*
  • Lung Diseases / virology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mucus / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / metabolism
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / pathology*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / virology
  • Respiratory Syncytial Viruses / pathogenicity*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / pathology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / virology
  • Viral Load
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Interleukin-17
  • Interleukin-23
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Viral Proteins
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Granzymes