Rationale: IL-22-producing helper T cells (Th22 cells) have been reported to be involved in tuberculosis infection. However, differentiation and immune regulation of Th22 cells in tuberculous pleural effusion (TPE) remain unknown.
Objectives: To elucidate the mechanism by which Th22 cells differentiate and recruit into the pleural space.
Methods: The distribution and phenotypic features of Th22 cells in both TPE and blood were determined. The impacts of proinflammatory cytokines and antigen presentation by pleural mesothelial cells (PMCs) on Th22-cell differentiation were explored. The chemoattractant activity of chemokines produced by PMCs for Th22 cells was observed.
Measurements and main results: Th22 cells were significantly higher in TPE than in blood. IL-1β, IL-6, and/or tumor necrosis factor-α promoted Th22-cell differentiation from CD4(+) T cells. It was found that PMCs expressed CCL20, CCL22, and CCL27, and that TPE and PMC supernatants were chemotactic for Th22 cells. This activity was partly blocked by anti-CCL20, anti-CCL22, and anti-CCL27 antibodies. IL-22 and IL-17 significantly improved PMC wound healing. Moreover, PMCs were able to stimulate CD4(+) T-cell proliferation and Th22-cell differentiation by presenting tuberculosis-specific antigen.
Conclusions: The overrepresentation of Th22 cells in TPE may be due to pleural cytokines and to PMC-produced chemokines. Our data suggest a collaborative loop between PMCs and Th22 cells in TPE. In particular, PMCs were able to function as antigen-presenting cells to stimulate CD4(+) T-cell proliferation and Th22-cell differentiation.