Elevated Th17 response in infants undergoing respiratory viral infection

Arie J. Stoppelenburg, Sytze De Roock, Marije P. Hennus, Louis Bont, Marianne Boes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


IL-17 and T-helper (Th)17 cells contribute to viral airway pathology in human newborns. Because umbilical cord blood T cells fail to differentiate toward the Th17 lineage in the presence of autologous antigen-presenting cells, we asked whether Th17 cells are present in young infants that experience respiratory viral infection. To this end, we analyzed tracheal aspirate samples from infant patients suffering from acute respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection and healthy infant controls. Acute RSV infection associates with elevated IL-17 and accumulation of CD161+ T cells in acute RSV infected lungs. Correspondingly, local Th17 polarizing cytokines were increased. In peripheral blood, we show that Th17 cells are absent in healthy 1-month-old infants, but are present in acute RSV patients. The triggering of pathogen-associated pattern receptors TLR4 and TLR7 promotes the generation of a Th17-polarizing cytokine environment by 1-month-old infant dendritic cell (DC). We thus conclude that although Th17 cells are absent in healthy newborns, Th17 cells are present in peripheral blood and the airways of infants that experience viral infection, thereby contributing to airway immunopathology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1274-1279
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes


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