Autoimmunity results from the dysregulation of the immune system leading to tissue damage. Th1 and Th17 cells are known to be cellular mediators of inflammation in autoimmune diseases. The specific cytokine milieu within the site of inflammation or within secondary lymphatic tissues is important during the priming and effector phases of T cell response. In this review, we will address the nature of the inflammatory response in the context of autoimmune disease, specifically we will discuss the role of dendritic cells following stimulation of their innate pathogen recognition receptors in directing the development of T cell responses. We will focus on how dendritic cell subsets change the balance between major players in autoimmunity, namely Th1, Th17 and regulatory T cells. Th17 cells, once thought to only act as pathogenic effectors through production of IL-17, have been shown to have regulatory properties as well with co-production of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 by a subset now referred to as regulatory Th17 cells. IL-17 is important in the induction of autoimmune diseases such as experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Study of the inflammatory process following encounter with agents that stimulate the innate immune responses such as adjuvants opens a new horizon for the discovery of therapeutic agents including those derived from microorganisms. Microbial products such as adjuvants that function as TLR ligands may stimulate the immune system by interacting with Toll-like receptors (TLR) on antigen-presenting cells. Microbial agents such as Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) or Freunds adjuvant (CFA) that induce a Th17 response are protective in models of autoimmune diseases particularly EAE and type 1 diabetes (T1D). The induction of innate immunity by these microbial products alters the balance in the cytokine microenvironment and may be responsible for modulation of the inflammation and protection from autoimmunity.
Keywords: Th17, inflammation, dendritic cells, autoimmunity, adjuvant, therapeutic use, immunoregulation
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