Current views on the functions of interleukin-17A-producing cells in atherosclerosis

Thromb Haemost. 2011 Nov;106(5):787-95. doi: 10.1160/TH11-05-0342. Epub 2011 Sep 22.


Multiple components of the immune response are involved in the initiation, progression and persistence of atherosclerosis. Interleukin (IL)-17A is produced by a broad variety of leukocytes and plays an important role in host defense. IL-17A is also involved in the pathology of several autoimmune diseases mainly via the regulation of chemokine expression and leukocyte migration to the site of inflammation. There is an increasing body of evidence indicating an association between elevated levels of IL-17A and cardiovascular diseases. Interestingly, this IL-17A-dependent response occurs in parallel with the Th1-dominant immune response during atherogenesis. To date, the precise role of IL-17A+ cells in atherosclerosis is controversial. Several studies have suggested a pro-atherogenic role of IL-17A via the regulation of aortic macrophage numbers, Th1-related cytokines and aortic chemokine expression. However, two studies recently described anti-inflammatory effects of IL-17A on mouse plaque burden via possible regulation of aortic VCAM-1 expression and T cell content. Furthermore, an initial study using IL-17A-deficient mice demonstrated that IL-17A affects the immune composition and inflammatory phenotype of the aortic wall; however, no effects were observed on atherosclerosis. Further studies are necessary to fully address the role of IL-17A and other IL-17 family members in atherosclerosis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arteries / immunology*
  • Atherosclerosis / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-17 / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Interleukin-17 / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*


  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Interleukin-17
  • Receptors, Interleukin-17