Vitamin D counteracts an IL-23-dependent IL-17A+IFN-γ+ response driven by urban particulate matter

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Urban particulate matter (UPM) air pollution and vitamin D deficiency are detrimentally associated with respiratory health. This is hypothesized to be due in part to regulation of IL-17A, which UPM is reported to promote. Here, we used a myeloid dendritic cell (DC)-memory CD4+ T cell co-culture system to characterize UPM-driven IL-17A+ cells, investigate the mechanism by which UPM-primed DCs promote this phenotype, and address evidence for cross-regulation by vitamin D. CD1c+ myeloid DCs were cultured overnight with or without a reference source of UPM and/or active vitamin D (1,25[OH]2D3) before they were co-cultured with autologous memory CD4+ T cells. Supernatants were harvested for cytokine analysis on Day 5 of co-culture, and intracellular cytokine staining was performed on Day 7. UPM-primed DCs increased the proportion of memory CD4+ T cells expressing the T helper 17 cell (Th17)-associated cytokines IL-17A, IL-17F, and IL-22, as well as IFN-γ, granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor, and granzyme B. Notably, a large proportion of the UPM-driven IL-17A+ cells co-expressed these cytokines, but not IL-10, indicative of a proinflammatory Th17 profile. UPM-treated DCs expressed elevated levels of il23 mRNA and increased secretion of IL-23p40. Neutralization of IL-23 in culture reduced the frequency of IL-17A+IFN-γ+ cells without affecting cell proliferation. 1,25(OH)2D3 counteracted the UPM-driven DC maturation and inhibited the frequency of IL-17A+IFN-γ+ cells, most prominently when DCs were co-treated with the corticosteroid dexamethasone, while maintaining antiinflammatory IL-10 synthesis. These data indicate that UPM might promote an inflammatory milieu in part by inducing an IL-23-driven proinflammatory Th17 response. Restoring vitamin D sufficiency may counteract these UPM-driven effects without obliterating important homeostatic immune functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-366
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology
Issue number3
Early online date2 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2017


  • Air pollution
  • Corticosteroids
  • IL-23
  • Th17
  • Vitamin D


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