Molecular Basis of Upregulation of IL-17 in Estrogen Model of Inflammation
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Interleukin-17 (IL-17) plays a major role in inflammation by regulating the induction of various proinflammatory genes, which aid in the recruitment and activation of neutrophils. Although IL-17 is considered to be protective in infection, overproduction of IL-17 in conditions like autoimmune diseases has been shown to aggravate these diseases and contribute to tissue injury. One of the principal focus of our laboratory is to decipher molecular mechanisms involved in inflammatory cytokine regulation and response in inflammatory disorders. To study this aspect, we employ a murine model of pro-inflammation induced by exposure to a natural immunomodulator, estrogen. In this novel study, we have comprehensively investigated the effect of estrogen on IL-17 induction, an aspect not studied thus far. We are the first to demonstrate that estrogen increases the ability of lymphocytes to secrete IL-17A, and its isoforms IL-17F, IL-17A/F. In addition to the cytokine levels, the percentages of IL-17⁺ cells are also increased by estrogen. Impressively, we found that estrogen fine tunes the balance of multiple transcription factors/signaling pathways. Estrogen upregulates IL-17 by promoting the activity and expression of positive regulators (RORγt, RORα, NF-κB, JAK-2) and decreases the activity and/or expression of negative regulators (IRF8, ETS-1). In addition, we found that estrogen epigenetically regulates IL-17 induction by miRNAs (miR-326 and miR-223). We also found that majority of IL-17 positive cells are CD8⁺ suggesting that estrogen-mediated IL-17 induction is predominantly from Tc17 cells. This is possibly due to increased proliferation of CD8⁺ cells from estrogen-treated mice, as demonstrated by CFSE cell proliferation assay. Furthermore, estrogen also enhances the ability of IL-17-target cells to release proinflammatory molecules when exposed to IL-17. Together, this is the first study to comprehensively show that estrogen calibrates transcription factors and miRNAs to enhance IL-17 induction and promote IL-17 response. This dissertation work will provide a platform to continue further research in estrogen modulation of IL-17 in inflammation and disease conditions.
- Doctoral Dissertations