Inflammation Research

, Volume 61, Issue 10, pp 1155–1165

Increased Th17 cell frequency concomitant with decreased Foxp3+ Treg cell frequency in the peripheral circulation of patients with carotid artery plaques

  • Zhen-dong Liu
  • Lin Wang
  • Fang-hong Lu
  • Hui Pan
  • Ying-xin Zhao
  • Shu-jian Wang
  • Shang-wen Sun
  • Cui-ling Li
  • Xiao-liang Hu
Original Research Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00011-012-0510-2

Cite this article as:
Liu, Z., Wang, L., Lu, F. et al. Inflamm. Res. (2012) 61: 1155. doi:10.1007/s00011-012-0510-2

Abstract

Objective and design

We investigated a possible imbalance between T helper (Th)17 and CD4+ CD25+ forkhead/winged helix transcription factor (Foxp3) T regulatory (Treg) cells in patients with carotid artery plaques.

Material or subjects

From November 2009 to September 2010, we enrolled 126 males and 104 females with mean age 68.24 ± 6.71 years.

Treatment

Based on carotid artery sonography, the 230 subjects were categorized into three groups: plaque negative; stable plaques; and unstable plaques.

Methods

Th17 and Treg cell frequencies, relevant plasma cytokines (IL-17, IL-6, IL-23, and TNF-α), and RORγt mRNA levels were determined.

Results

Compared to plaque negative, Th17 cells, Th17-related cytokines (IL-17, IL-6, IL-23, and TNF-α), and RORγt mRNA levels were higher with stable plaques, and highest with unstable plaques. The opposite trend was found for Treg cells, Treg-related cytokines (IL-10 and TGF-β1), and Foxp3 mRNA. Th17 cell frequencies were significantly negatively correlated with Treg cell frequencies.

Conclusions

Our investigation demonstrated that there is a Th17/Treg functional imbalance in patients with unstable carotid atherosclerotic plaques. Th17 cells may promote atherogenesis, while Treg cells may have a protective role against atherosclerosis plaques. An imbalance of Th17/Treg cells may offer a new direction for the treatment of atherosclerosis.

Keywords

Atherosclerotic plaque Chronic inflammation Th17/Treg cells Cytokine 

Copyright information

© Springer Basel AG 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhen-dong Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lin Wang
    • 1
  • Fang-hong Lu
    • 2
  • Hui Pan
    • 2
  • Ying-xin Zhao
    • 2
  • Shu-jian Wang
    • 2
  • Shang-wen Sun
    • 2
  • Cui-ling Li
    • 2
  • Xiao-liang Hu
    • 2
  1. 1.Tongji Hospital of Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science and TechnologyWuhanChina
  2. 2.Cardio-Cerebrovascular Control and Research Center, Institute of Basic MedicineShandong Academy of Medical SciencesJinanChina

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