T helper 17 cells: Discovery, function, and physiological trigger Review uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Interleukin-17
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer


  • In the few years since their discovery, T helper 17 cells (T(H)17) have been shown to play an important role in host defense against infections, and in tissue inflammation during autoimmunity. T(H)17 cells produce IL-17, IL-21, IL-10, and IL-22 cytokines, and thus have broad effects on a variety of tissues. Notably, the requirement for the immunosuppressive cytokine TGF-beta along with the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-6 for T(H)17 differentiation supports the intimate relationship between the T(H)17 subset and FOXP3(+) regulatory T cells. Here, we discuss current knowledge on effector functions and differentiation of the T(H)17 lineage. Furthermore, we now know of a physiological stimulus for T(H)17 differentiation: innate immune recognition of cells undergoing apoptosis as a direct result of infection induces unique development of this subset. As our knowledge of T(H)17 and T regulatory cells grows, we are building on a new framework for the understanding of effector T cell differentiation and the biology of CD4(+) T cell adaptive immune responses.

publication date

  • May 2010



  • Review



  • eng

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s00018-009-0248-3

PubMed ID

  • 20054607

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 1407

end page

  • 21


  • 67


  • 9