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The Role Of Th17-Related Cytokines In Atopic Dermatitis

Makoto Sugaya

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T helper-17 (Th17) cells, which mainly produce IL-17, are associated with development of various autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases, multiple sclerosis, and psoriasis. IL-17 and related cytokines are therapeutic targets of these diseases. In atopic dermatitis (AD), Th2 cytokines such as IL-4 and IL-13 are regarded to be the main player of the disease; however, Th17 cytokines are also expressed in AD skin lesions. Expression of IL-22 rather than IL-17 is predominant in AD skin, which is contrary to cytokine expression in psoriasis skin. Relatively low IL-17 expression in AD skin can induce relatively low antimicrobial peptide expression, which may be a reason why bacterial infection is frequently seen in AD patients. Failure of clinical trials for investigating the efficacy of anti-IL-12/23 p40 in AD has suggested that IL-17 expressed in skin lesions should not be the main player but a bystander responding to barrier dysfunction.