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Free Content Interleukin-21 induces the differentiation of human Tc22 cells via phosphorylation of signal transducers and activators of transcription

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Interleukin-21 (IL-21) exerts critical functions in T helper type 17 (Th17) cell development. However, the effect of IL-21 on the differentiation of IL-22-producing T cells is not clear. Here we showed that IL-21 induced the differentiation of human naive CD8+ T cells into Tc22 cells without the expression of IL-17. The addition of transforming growth factor-β inhibited the production of IL-22 but induced the production of IL-17. Both IL-15 and IL-2 induced interferon-γ production but did not induce differentiation of Tc22, which suggests that common γ-chain signals are not specific to promote IL-22 synthesis. The IL-21 induced naive CD8+ T cells to produce IL-22 in greater amounts than memory CD8+ T cells. In addition, we demonstrated that IL-21 promoted the proliferation and increased the expression of IL-21 receptors on activated naive CD8+ T cells. Furthermore, IL-21 increased the expression of granzyme B molecules. Analysis of molecular mechanisms indicated that IL-21 induced phosphorylation of signal transducers and activators of transcription 1, 3 and 5 in CD8+ T cells. Overall, our data indicated that IL-21, an effector cytokine produced by CD4+ T cells, might mediate the cross-talk between CD4+ and CD8+ T cells through the production of IL-22.
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Keywords: CD4/helper T cells; CD8/cytotoxic T cells; Tc22; cytokine; interleukin-21

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Immunology, Zhongshan School of Medicine, Sun Yat-sen University 2: Department of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, the Secondary Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China

Publication date: April 1, 2011

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