IL-17, produced by a distinct lineage of CD4(+) helper T (Th) cells termed Th17 cells, induces the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines from resident cells and it has been demonstrated that over-expression of IL-17 plays a crucial role in the onset of several auto-immune diseases. Here we examined the role of IL-17 in the pathogenesis of autoimmune gastritis, a disease that was previously believed to be mediated by IFN-γ. Significantly higher levels of IL-17 and IFN-γ were found in the stomachs and stomach-draining lymph nodes of mice with severe autoimmune gastritis. Unlike IL-17, which was produced solely by CD4(+) T cells in gastritic mice, the majority of IFN-γ-producing cells were CD8(+) T cells. However, CD8(+) T cells alone were not able to induce autoimmune gastritis. T cells that were deficient in IL-17 or IFN-γ production were able to induce autoimmune gastritis but to a much lower extent compared with the disease induced by wild-type T cells. These data demonstrate that production of neither IL-17 nor IFN-γ by effector T cells is essential for the initiation of autoimmune gastritis, but suggest that both are required for the disease to progress to the late pathogenic stage that includes significant tissue disruption.
© 2012 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.