Interleukin-17-producing CD4(+) cells home to the graft early after human heart transplantation

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BACKGROUND: Interleukin-17 (IL-17) is regarded as a major effector cytokine with pro-inflammatory actions. It has pleiotropic and environment-specific functions by promoting adaptive cytotoxic T-lymphocyte responses during inflammation. Therefore, it is tempting to speculate that IL-17 plays a major role in inflammatory responses in transplant recipients. We questioned whether IL-17 is expressed in the transplanted heart during acute rejection (AR), or during immunologic quiescence, and which graft-infiltrating lymphocytes produce IL-17. In addition, we analyzed donor-specific IL-17-producing cells in peripheral blood cells in comparable periods after transplantation. METHODS: Endomyocardial biopsies from heart transplant recipients with early or late AR or in an immunologic quiescence period were analyzed for the presence of IL-17 mRNA. In addition, the capacity of graft-infiltrating lymphocytes (GILs) to produce IL-17 was analyzed. Moreover, we determined the frequency of donor-reactive IL-17-producing peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) using an Elispot assay. RESULTS: Twenty-one percent (14 of 67) of the biopsies assessed were positive for IL-17 mRNA. Thirteen of 41 biopsies were observed in the early period (<= 3 months) after transplantation. One (of 26) of the late biopsies expressed IL-17 (p = 0.006). Specifically, IL-17 was expressed during early AR (57%, or 8 of 14), whereas biopsies from late AR (0 of 5) did not express IL-17 mRNA (p = 0.02). During AR, IL-17 is derived from IL-17-producing CD4(+)CD161(+), and not CD8(+), GILs. In contrast to the graft findings, we detected circulating donor-reactive IL-17-producing cells mostly during immunologic quiescence. CONCLUSIONS: Particularly early after heart transplantation, IL-17-producing CD4(+) T cells home to the graft, which contributes to the AR process. (C) 2015 International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation. All rights reserved.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)933-940
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Heart and Lung Transplantation
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Research programs

  • EMC COEUR-09
  • EMC MM-04-39-05

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