T cell–mediated autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis are driven by autoaggressive Th cells. The pathogenicity of such Th cells has, in the past, been considered to be dictated by their cytokine polarization profile. The polarization of such effector T cells relies critically upon the actions of cytokines secreted by APCs. While Th1 polarization has long been associated with the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases, recent data obtained in gene-targeted mice and the discovery of Th17 cell involvement in autoimmunity conflict with this hypothesis. In light of these recent developments, we discuss in this review the actions of APC-derived cytokines and their emerging roles in T cell polarization in the context of autoimmune inflammatory responses.
Ilona Gutcher, Burkhard Becher