Inhibition of interleukin-1β-mediated interleukin-1 receptor-associated kinase 4 phosphorylation by zinc leads to repression of memory T helper type 17 response in humans

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Zinc is an essential trace element that plays pivotal roles in multiple facets of the immune system. Besides its catalytic and structural roles, zinc also functions as an intracellular signalling molecule, and changes in zinc levels can cause both direct and indirect modulation of immune responses. Further, cytoplasmic levels of bioavailable zinc in immune cells are largely influenced by many extracellular stimuli. Here we provide evidence that zinc represses memory T helper type 17 responses in humans by inhibiting interleukin-1β(IL-1β)-mediated signal.In vitrozinc treatment of CD4+ T cells in the presence of activated monocytes inhibited interferon-γ-producing cells and IL-17-producing cells, but not IL-4-producing cells. Of note, production of IL-17+ cells from memory CD4+ T cells, which is significantly up-regulated by lipopolysaccharide-stimulated monocytes, was preferentially repressed by zinc. Increased cytoplasmic zinc in T cells suppressed IL-1βsignalling through repression of phosphorylation of IL-1 receptor-associated kinase 4 (IRAK4), so leading to an inhibitory effect on T helper type 17 responses facilitated by monocyte-derived IL-1βin humans. These findings suggest that extracellular zinc bioavailability may affect memory CD4+ T-cell responses by modulating the zinc-mediated signalling pathway.

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