CCR6 (CC Chemokine Receptor 6) Is Essential for the Migration of Detrimental Natural Interleukin-17–Producing γδ T Cells in Stroke

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Abstract

Background and Purpose—

Immune-mediated tissue damage after stroke evolves within the first days, and lymphocytes contribute to the secondary injury. Our goal was to identify T-cell subpopulations, which trigger the immune response.

Methods—

In a model of experimental stroke, we analyzed the immune phenotype of interleukin-17 (IL-17)–producing γδ T cells and explored the therapeutic potential of neutralizing anti-IL-17 antibodies in combination with mild therapeutic hypothermia.

Results—

We show that brain-infiltrating IL-17–positive γδ T cells expressed the Vγ6 segment of the γδ T cells receptor and were largely positive for the chemokine receptor CCR6 (CC chemokine receptor 6), which is a characteristic for natural IL-17–producing γδ T cells. These innate lymphocytes are established as major initial IL-17 producers in acute infections. Genetic deficiency in Ccr6 was associated with diminished infiltration of natural IL-17–producing γδ T cells and a significantly improved neurological outcome. In the ischemic brain, IL-17 together with tumor necrosis factor-α triggered the expression of CXC chemokines and neutrophil infiltration. Therapeutic targeting of synergistic IL-17 and tumor necrosis factor-α pathways by IL-17 neutralization and therapeutic hypothermia resulted in additional protective effects in comparison to an anti-IL-17 antibody treatment or therapeutic hypothermia alone.

Conclusions—

Brain-infiltrating IL-17–producing γδ T cells belong to the subset of natural IL-17–producing γδ T cells. In stroke, these previously unrecognized innate lymphocytes trigger a highly conserved immune reaction, which is known from host responses toward pathogens. We demonstrate that therapeutic approaches targeting synergistic IL-17 and tumor necrosis factor-α pathways in parallel offer additional neuroprotection in stroke.

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