rss
Thorax 68:468-474 doi:10.1136/thoraxjnl-2012-202168
  • Respiratory infection
  • Original article

T helper 17 cells are involved in the local and systemic inflammatory response in community-acquired pneumonia

  1. Menno M van der Eerden1
  1. 1Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Erasmus MC Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  2. 2Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Sint Franciscus Gasthuis, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  3. 3Department of Intensive Care, Erasmus MC Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  4. 4Department of Medical Microbiology, Erasmus MC Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Dr Menno van der Eerden, Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Erasmus MC, ‘s-Gravendijkwal 230, Rotterdam 3015 CE, The Netherlands; m.vandereerden{at}erasmusmc.nl
  2. RWH and MME contributed equally.
  • Received 17 May 2012
  • Revised 19 November 2012
  • Accepted 14 December 2012
  • Published Online First 12 January 2013

Abstract

Background Recent findings in mouse models suggest that T helper (Th)17 cells, characterised by production of interleukin (IL)-17A and IL-22, are involved in the immunopathogenesis of pneumonia.

Objective In this study, we aimed to identify the involvement of Th17 cells in human community-acquired pneumonia (CAP).

Design Within 24 h of admission, T cells from peripheral blood (n=39) and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL, n=20) of CAP patients and of 10 healthy individuals were analysed by intracellular flow cytometry for the production of various cytokines, including IL-17A and IL-22. Peripheral blood T cells were also analysed 7 and 30 days after admission. Th17 cytokine profiles were correlated with pneumonia severity index and microbial aetiology.

Results In the BAL of CAP patients, proportions of IL-17A and IL-22 single positive, as well as IL-17A/IL-22 double positive CD4 T cells were significantly increased compared with healthy individuals. Significantly increased proportions of IL-17A/IL-22 double positive CD4 T cells in BAL were found in non-severe and severe CAP patients, as well as in pneumococcal and non-pneumococcal CAP. In the peripheral blood of CAP patients upon admission, we found significantly increased proportions of IL-17A/IL-22 double positive CD4 T cells. One week after admission, the proportions of these double positive cells were still significantly increased in CAP patients compared with healthy individuals.

Conclusions These data indicate that Th17 cells are engaged in the local and systemic immune response in human pneumonia. Especially, IL-17A/IL-22 double positive Th17 cells may be involved in the immunopathogenesis of CAP.