Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 67, Issue 9, pp 1407–1421

T helper 17 cells: discovery, function, and physiological trigger


DOI: 10.1007/s00018-009-0248-3

Cite this article as:
Torchinsky, M.B. & Blander, J.M. Cell. Mol. Life Sci. (2010) 67: 1407. doi:10.1007/s00018-009-0248-3


In the few years since their discovery, T helper 17 cells (TH17) have been shown to play an important role in host defense against infections, and in tissue inflammation during autoimmunity. TH17 cells produce IL-17, IL-21, IL-10, and IL-22 cytokines, and thus have broad effects on a variety of tissues. Notably, the requirement for the immunosuppressive cytokine TGF-β along with the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-6 for TH17 differentiation supports the intimate relationship between the TH17 subset and FOXP3+ regulatory T cells. Here, we discuss current knowledge on effector functions and differentiation of the TH17 lineage. Furthermore, we now know of a physiological stimulus for TH17 differentiation: innate immune recognition of cells undergoing apoptosis as a direct result of infection induces unique development of this subset. As our knowledge of TH17 and T regulatory cells grows, we are building on a new framework for the understanding of effector T cell differentiation and the biology of CD4+ T cell adaptive immune responses.


TH17Effector T cellsRegulatory T cellsInnate immunityApoptosisToleranceAutoimmunityHost defense

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel/Switzerland 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medicine, Immunology InstituteMount Sinai School of MedicineNew YorkUSA