IL-22 Is Mainly Produced by IFNγ-Secreting Cells but Is Dispensable for Host Protection against Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection

Behrends, Jochen; Renauld, Jean-Christophe; Ehlers, Stefan; Hölscher, Christoph
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
Anti-inflammatory treatment of autoimmune diseases is associated with an increased risk of reactivation tuberculosis (TB). Besides interleukin (IL-17)A, IL-22 represents a classical T helper (TH)17 cytokine and shares similar pathological effects in inflammatory diseases such as psoriasis or arthritis. Whereas IL-17A supports protective immune responses during mycobacterial infections, the role of IL-22 after infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) is yet poorly characterized. Therefore, we here characterize the cell types producing IL-22 and the protective function of this cytokine during experimental TB in mice. Like IL-17A, IL-22 is expressed early after infection with Mtb in an IL-23-dependent manner. Surprisingly, the majority of IL-22-producing cells are not positive for IL-17A but have rather functional characteristics of interferon-gamma-producing TH1 cells. Although we found minor differences in the number of naive and central memory T cells as well as in the frequency of TH1 and polyfunctional T cells in mice deficient for IL-22, the absence of IL-22 does not affect the outcome of Mtb infection. Our study revealed that although produced by TH1 cells, IL-22 is dispensable for protective immune responses during TB. Therefore, targeting of IL-22 in inflammatory disease may represent a therapeutic approach that does not incur the danger of reactivation TB.


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