Th17 Cells and IL-17 in Protective Immunity to Vaginal Candidiasis

PLoS One. 2011;6(7):e22770. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0022770. Epub 2011 Jul 27.


Background: Th17 cells play a major role in coordinating the host defence in oropharyngeal candidiasis. In this study we investigated the involvement of the Th17 response in an animal model of vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC).

Methods: To monitor the course of infection we exploited a new in vivo imaging technique.

Results: i) The progression of VVC leads to a strong influx of neutrophils in the vagina soon after the challenge which persisted despite the resolution of infection; ii) IL-17, produced by vaginal cells, particularly CD4 T cells, was detected in the vaginal wash during the infection, reaching a maximum 14 days after the challenge; iii) The amount and kinetics of IL-23 in vaginal fluids were comparable to those in vaginal cells; iv) The inhibition of Th17 differentiation led to significant inhibition of IL-17 production with consequent exacerbation of infection; v) An increased production of βdefensin 2 was manifested in cells of infected mice. This production was strongly reduced when Th17 differentiation was inhibited and was increased by rIL-17 treatment.

Conclusions: These results imply that IL-17 and Th17, along with innate antimicrobial factors, have a role in the immune response to vaginal candidiasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Candida albicans / drug effects
  • Candida albicans / immunology
  • Candidiasis, Vulvovaginal / immunology*
  • Candidiasis, Vulvovaginal / microbiology
  • Candidiasis, Vulvovaginal / prevention & control*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Immunity / drug effects
  • Immunity / immunology*
  • Interleukin-17 / immunology*
  • Interleukin-23 / metabolism
  • Lymph Nodes / drug effects
  • Lymph Nodes / immunology
  • Mice
  • Neutrophil Infiltration / drug effects
  • Neutrophil Infiltration / immunology
  • Piperidines / pharmacology
  • Piperidines / therapeutic use
  • Quinazolinones / pharmacology
  • Quinazolinones / therapeutic use
  • Th17 Cells / drug effects
  • Th17 Cells / immunology*
  • Vagina / drug effects
  • Vagina / immunology
  • Vagina / microbiology
  • Vagina / pathology
  • beta-Defensins / metabolism


  • Interleukin-17
  • Interleukin-23
  • Piperidines
  • Quinazolinones
  • beta-Defensins
  • halofuginone