TH17, TH22 and Treg cells are enriched in the healthy human cecum

PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e41373. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0041373. Epub 2012 Jul 19.


There is increasing evidence that dysregulation of CD4(+) T cell populations leads to intestinal inflammation, but the regional distribution of these populations throughout the intestinal tract in healthy individuals remains unclear. Here, we show that T(H)17, T(H)22 and T(Reg) cells are enriched in the healthy human cecum compared to the terminal ileum and sigmoid colon, whereas T(H)1 and T(H)2 cells do not significantly vary by location. Transcriptional profiling analysis of paired pinch biopsies from different regions of the intestine identified significant differences in the metabolic state of the terminal ileum, cecum, and sigmoid colon. An increased proportion of T(H)17 cells was positively associated with expression of resistin (RETN) and negatively associated with expression of trefoil factor 1 (TFF1). These results suggest that CD4(+) T helper cells that are important in maintaining mucosal barrier function may be enriched in the cecum as a result of metabolic differences of the surrounding microenvironment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy
  • Cecum / cytology*
  • Colon / cytology
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Intestine, Small / cytology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / cytology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / cytology*
  • Th17 Cells / cytology*