Immune molecules known as cytokines are effectors of immune cell function. The IL-23/IL-17 and IL-12/IFN-gamma cytokine pathways have been linked to autoimmune diseases (i.e, diseases in which the immune system turns on the body).
A team of researchers, led by Li Li, at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, has now determined that these cytokine pathways also contribute to inflammation in a mouse model of acute kidney injury.
Specifically, they find that the IL-23/IL-17 pathway works upstream of the IL-12/IFN-gamma pathway, as IL-17A production by immune cells known as neutrophils was required for activation of the IL-12/IFN-gamma pathway.
In addition, as the inflammation underlying kidney injury in this model was caused by blood flow returning to the kidney following a period in which the kidney was deprived of blood flow (an event known as reperfusion) and reperfusion injury has a role in brain and heart damage caused by stroke and heart attack, respectively, the authors suggest that the IL-23/IL-17 and IL-12/IFN-gamma cytokine pathways might contribute to reperfusion injury in other organs.
The research is reported in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
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