Are we ready to start studies of Th17 cell manipulation as a therapy for cancer?

Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2012 Jan;61(1):1-7. doi: 10.1007/s00262-011-1151-y. Epub 2011 Nov 16.


From a therapeutic perspective, the bourgeoning literature on Th17 cells should allow us to decide whether to rationally pursue the manipulation of Th17 cells in cancer. The purpose of this review is to attempt a synthesis of a number of contradictory conclusions as to the role that these cells are playing in the process of tumourigenesis in order to provide guidance as to whether our current understanding is sufficient to safely pursue Th17-targeted therapy in cancer at this time. Th17 cells are a highly plastic population and the cytokine drivers for Th17 cell generation and skewing will vary between various cancers and importantly between different sites of tumour involvement in any individual patient. The net impact of the pro-angiogenic IL-17 produced not only by Th17 cells but by other cells particularly macrophages and the anti-tumour effects of Th1/Th17 cells will in turn be determined by the complex interplay of diverse chemokines and cytokines in any tumour microenvironment. Th17 cells that fail to home to tumours may be immunosuppressive. The complexity of IL-17 and Th17 dynamics makes easy prediction of the effects of either enhancing or suppressing Th17 cell differentiation in cancer problematic.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation / immunology
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Th17 Cells / immunology*