Cutaneous and mucosal epithelial cells function as both a physical barrier and as immune sentinels against environmental challenges, such as microbial pathogens, allergens and stress. The crosstalk between epithelial cells and leukocytes is essential for orchestrating proper immune responses during host defense. Interleukin (IL)-17 family cytokines are important players in regulating innate epithelial immune responses. Although IL-17A and IL-17F promote antibacterial and antifungal responses, IL-17E is essential for defense against parasitic infections. Emerging data indicate that another member of this family, IL-17C, specifically regulates epithelial immunity. IL-17C production serves as an immediate defense mechanism by epithelial cells, utilizing an autocrine mechanism to promote antibacterial responses at barrier surfaces.
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