Th17 cells are involved in the pathogenesis of many autoimmune diseases, but it is not clear whether they play a pathogenic role in type 1 diabetes. Here we investigated whether mouse Th17 cells with specificity for an islet antigen can induce diabetes upon transfer into NOD/SCID recipient mice. Induction of diabetes in NOD/SCID mice via adoptive transfer of Th1 cells from BDC2.5 transgenic mice was prevented by treatment of the recipient mice with a neutralizing IFN-γ–specific antibody. This result suggested a major role of Th1 cells in the induction of disease in this model of type 1 diabetes. Nevertheless, transfer of highly purified Th17 cells from BDC2.5 transgenic mice caused diabetes in NOD/SCID recipients with similar rates of onset as in transfer of Th1 cells. However, treatment with neutralizing IL-17–specific antibodies did not prevent disease. Instead, the transferred Th17 cells, completely devoid of IFN-γ at the time of transfer, rapidly converted to secrete IFN-γ in the NOD/SCID recipients. Purified Th17 cells also upregulated Tbet and secreted IFN-γ upon exposure to IL-12 in vitro and in vivo in NOD/SCID recipients. These results indicate substantial plasticity of Th17 commitment toward a Th1-like profile.
David Bending, Hugo De La Peña, Marc Veldhoen, Jenny M. Phillips, Catherine Uyttenhove, Brigitta Stockinger, Anne Cooke
Kinetic analysis of transcriptional markers for Th1 program, following adoptive transfer of purified Th17 cells.