Protective role of Th17 cells in pulmonary infection

Vaccine. 2016 Mar 18;34(13):1504-1514. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2016.02.021. Epub 2016 Feb 13.


Th17 cells are characterized as preferential producer of interleukins including IL-17A, IL-17F, IL-21 and IL-22. Corresponding receptors of these cytokines are expressed on number of cell types found in the mucosa, including epithelial cells and fibroblasts which constitute the prime targets of the Th17-associated cytokines. Binding of IL-17 family members to their corresponding receptors lead to modulation of antimicrobial functions of target cells including alveolar epithelial cells. Stimulated alveolar epithelial cells produce antimicrobial peptides and are involved in granulepoesis, neutrophil recruitment and tissue repair. Mucosal immunity mediated by Th17 cells is protective against numerous pulmonary pathogens including extracellular bacterial and fungal pathogens. This review focuses on the protective role of Th17 cells during pulmonary infection, highlighting subset differentiation, effector cytokines production, followed by study of the binding of these cytokines to their corresponding receptors, the subsequent signaling pathway they engender and their effector role in host defense.

Keywords: IL-17; Lung; Pulmonary infection; Th17 cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Mucosal*
  • Interleukin-17 / immunology
  • Interleukins / immunology
  • Lung Diseases / immunology*
  • Receptors, Interleukin / immunology
  • Signal Transduction
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • Th17 Cells / immunology*


  • IL17A protein, human
  • IL17F protein, human
  • Interleukin-17
  • Interleukins
  • Receptors, Interleukin
  • interleukin-21
  • interleukin-22