The American journal of pathology

IL-27R-mediated regulation of IL-17 controls the development of respiratory syncytial virus-associated pathogenesis.

PMID 24726498


IL-27 is a heterodimeric cytokine composed of the subunits p28 and Epstein-Barr virus induced gene (EBI)-3 and is known for its effects on T-cell function and differentiation. IL-27 signals through the widely expressed IL-27 receptor (IL-27R), composed of the ligand-specific IL-27Rα chain and gp130. Engagement of the IL-27R activates STAT1 signaling, induces the expression of the type 1 helper T-cell (Th1) cytokine, interferon γ, and suppresses the differentiation of Th2 and Th17 cells. This study investigates the role of IL-27 signaling in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection using IL-27Rα-deficient mice (IL-27rKO). Analysis of lungs from RSV-infected IL-27rKO mice showed exacerbation of mucus secretion compared with wild type, as well as enhanced expression of Muc5ac and Gob5 mRNA, markers of goblet cell metaplasia/hyperplasia. When compared with wild-type mice, RSV-challenged IL-27rKO mice had enhanced expression of Th17-associated cytokine IL-17a and an imbalance between Th1 and Th2 cytokine levels. Neutralization of IL-17 in RSV-infected IL-27rKO mice resulted in a significant decrease in the pulmonary mucus response and inhibition of the Th2-associated cytokines. Interestingly, IL-17 blockage led to an increase in the expression of IL-27 subunits p28 and EBI-3 in the lungs and lymph nodes of RSV-infected mice. Thus, IL-27 functions as a regulatory cytokine during RSV pathogenesis by suppressing the development ofxa0Th17 cells, but it also appears to be regulated by IL-17 induced by the virus.