Interleukin-2 Signaling via STAT5 Constrains T Helper 17 Cell Generation
Recent work has identified a new subset of effector T cells that produces interleukin (IL)-17 known as T helper 17 (Th17) cells, which is involved in the pathophysiology of inflammatory diseases and is thought to be developmentally related to regulatory T (Treg) cells. Because of its importance for Treg cells, we examined the role of IL-2 in Th17 generation and demonstrate that a previously unrecognized aspect of IL-2 function is to constrain IL-17 production. Genetic deletion or antibody blockade of IL-2 promoted differentiation of the Th17 cell subset. Whereas STAT3 appeared to be a key positive regulator of ROR³t and IL-17 expression, absence of IL-2 or disruption of its signaling by deletion of the transcription factor STAT5 resulted in enhanced Th17 cell development. We conclude that in addition to the promotion of activation-induced cell death of lymphocytes and the generation of Treg cells, inhibition of Th17 polarization appears to be an important function of IL-2.