The IL23-Th17 Axis in Intestinal Inflammation

  • Kevin J. Maloy


Over the past 5 years, a wealth of data has emerged from experimental models linking the IL23/Th17 axis with chronic intestinal inflammation. Clinical studies have also reported elevated levels of IL23 and Th17 cytokines in the inflamed intestine of IBD patients, and recent GWAS have associated polymorphisms in IL23R, and in other Th17-related genes, with susceptibility to IBD. However, the precise mechanisms through which the IL23-Th17 axis contributes to intestinal homeostasis are not fully understood. Recent studies have revealed that IL23 drives intestinal inflammation by stimulating conserved effector responses, characterised by the production of IL-17A, IFN-γ and IL-22, from several populations of innate and adaptive intestinal leukocytes. However, the effects of individual Th17 cytokines are complex, ranging from disease protective to highly pathogenic, and are governed by the context in which they are expressed and by the presence of additional factors in the intestine. More recently, it has been shown that distinct members of the intestinal microbiota can modulate the Th17 axis and can regulate the balance between Th17 and Treg cells in the intestine. In addition, several approaches using pharmacological or biological inhibitors of the IL23/Th17 axis have been demonstrated to alleviate autoimmune pathology. These findings suggest that strategies targeting the IL23/Th17 axis could constitute novel therapies for IBD. However, a better understanding of how the IL23/Th17 axis interacts with host genetic factors and the intestinal microbiota in the normal and diseased intestine is necessary to ensure that these novel therapies are applied to appropriate patient cohorts.


Inflammatory Bowel Disease Th17 Cell Treg Cell Inflammatory Bowel Disease Patient Dextran Sulphate Sodium 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The author would like to acknowledge The Wellcome Trust and CRUK for research grants support and George Song-Zhao for help with preparing the figure.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sir William Dunn School of PathologyUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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