The essential 'ingredients' for producing a type of human immune cell involved in both mucosal immunity and autoimmunity are reported online in Nature Immunology. The findings address a controversy surrounding the requirements for producing this unique type of immune cell in humans and in mice.
Dan Littman and colleagues, and Vassili Soumelis and colleagues, set out to test whether specific immune signaling molecules previously shown to be required for producing mouse 'T helper 17 cells' -- or 'TH17 cells' -- were also required for producing human TH17 cells. An underlying issue in these studies was the usefulness of mouse models to study the causes and treatment of human disease: if mouse and human TH17 cells have fundamentally different developmental requirements, the use of mouse models might be called into question. Both teams demonstrated that the key immune signaling molecule known as transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) and one or more inflammation-producing cytokine(s), such as interleukin 6 (IL-6), are required for producing human and mouse TH17 cells. These studies are important not only because they help to define what is necessary for producing human TH17 cells, but they also calm concerns about studying human autoimmunity and mucosal diseases such as Crohn's disease, inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis in mouse models.
Dan Littman (New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA)
Vassili Soumelis (Institut Curie, Paris, France)
Abstracts available online:
(C) Nature Immunology press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza