Th17 Cells and IL-17 in Protective Immunity to Vaginal Candidiasis
Th17 cells play a major role in coordinating the host defence in oropharyngeal candidiasis. In this study we investigated the involvement of the Th17 response in an animal model of vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC). To monitor the course of infection we exploited a new in vivo imaging technique. i) The progression of VVC leads to a strong influx of neutrophils in the vagina soon after the challenge which persisted despite the resolution of infection; ii) IL-17, produced by vaginal cells, particularly CD4 T cells, was detected in the vaginal wash during the infection, reaching a maximum 14 days after the challenge; iii) The amount and kinetics of IL-23 in vaginal fluids were comparable to those in vaginal cells; iv) The inhibition of Th17 differentiation led to significant inhibition of IL-17 production with consequent exacerbation of infection; v) An increased production of βdefensin 2 was manifested in cells of infected mice. This production was strongly reduced when Th17 differentiation was inhibited and was increased by rIL-17 treatment. These results imply that IL-17 and Th17, along with innate antimicrobial factors, have a role in the immune response to vaginal candidiasis.