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Th17 and regulatory T (Treg) cells are integral in maintaining immune homeostasis and Th17-Treg misbalance associates with inflammation.
We demonstrate that in addition to natural (n)Treg and induced (i)Treg cells developed from naïve precursors, Th17 cells are a novel source of Foxp3+ cells by converting into ex-Th17 Foxp3+ cells, and this helps to reconcile the contradictory information about the relevance in particularly of Th17 subset in immune surveillance.
We identified IL-17A+Foxp3+ double-positive and ex-IL-17-producing IL-17A-Foxp3+ T cells to be the underlying mechanism of immune regulation in mesenchymal stem cell-mediated prolonged allograft survival. Further, we identified accumulation of IL17A+Foxp3+ and ex-Th17 Foxp3+ cells in tumor bearing mice, indicating progressive direct Th17-into-Treg cell conversion as a novel phenomenon in cancer.
Moreover, we determined the importance of the Th17 cell plasticity for tumor induction and/or progression in ROR-g-/- mice. Our data indicate that RORgt is required not only for Th17 development, but also for effective Treg cell induction. TGF-b1 induced Foxp3 expression was reduced in ROR-g -/- cells. Further, tumor bearing ROR-g-/- mice showed significantly less Foxp3+ Treg cells, but higher IFNg+ Tcells compared to wild type animals.
Increased infiltration of IL17+ and FoxP3+ CD4+ T cells in the human ovarian cancer ascites, with the presence of a distinct IL17+FoxP3+ subset, and a significant correlation between tumor-associated Th17 and Treg cells demonstrates the existence of Th17-Foxp3+ T cell inter-relationship in cancer patients.
Yin-yang of IL17+ and Foxp3+ is important principle for improved clinical approaches targeting responses against self, allo and/or neo-self.