, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 55-70
Date: 30 Jan 2010

Costimulation of Th17 cells: adding fuel or putting out the fire in the inflamed gut?

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Inflammatory bowel disease, typified by Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, is a common disorder characterized by recurrent and serious inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. It is well documented that T cells play a pivotal role in the development of inflammatory bowel disease. Th17 cells are a unique T cell subpopulation implicated in inflammatory bowel disease and many other autoimmune/inflammatory diseases. However, the regulatory mechanism of Th17 activation and proliferation has not been defined completely. Recent studies have shown that the ligation of several costimulatory receptor–ligand pairs contributes to the activation, differentiation, and proliferation of T lymphocytes including the Th17 subset. In this review, we will discuss the emerging evidence on the role of Th17 cells in inflammatory bowel disease pathogenesis as well as the effect of costimulatory molecules on Th17 development and consider if the need for such costimulation of T lymphocytes provides a target for the development of novel therapeutic strategy.