Retinoic acid receptor-related orphan nuclear receptor γ (RORγ) orchestrates a pro-inflammatory gene expression programme in multiple lymphocyte lineages including T helper type 17 (Th17) cells, γδ T cells, innate lymphoid cells and lymphoid tissue inducer cells. There is compelling evidence that RORγ-expressing cells are relevant targets for therapeutic intervention in the treatment of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Unlike Th17 cells, where RORγ expression is induced under specific pro-inflammatory conditions, γδ T cells and other innate-like immune cells express RORγ in the steady state. Small molecule mediated disruption of RORγ function in cells with pre-existing RORγ transcriptional complexes represents a significant and challenging pharmacological hurdle. We present data demonstrating that a novel, selective and potent small molecule RORγ inhibitor can block the RORγ-dependent gene expression programme in both Th17 cells and RORγ-expressing γδ T cells as well as a disease-relevant subset of human RORγ-expressing memory T cells. Importantly, systemic administration of this inhibitor in vivo limits pathology in an innate lymphocyte-driven mouse model of psoriasis.
Keywords: ROR γ; T helper type 17; imiquimod; γδ T cells and autoimmunity.
© 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.