The characteristics of canine IL-17-producing cells are incompletely understood. Expression of mRNA encoding orthologs of IL-17 and the IL-17 receptor has been documented in tissues from dogs with arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and lymphoma; however, no associations have been found between IL-17 gene expression and disease phenotype in these conditions. Robust assessment of the role of IL-17-producing cells in dogs will require measuring the frequency of these cells in health and disease in balance with other lymphocyte subsets. The aim of this study was to confirm that the T-cell IL-17 response in dogs is evolutionarily conserved. Canine peripheral blood mononuclear cells were stimulated with Concanavalin A with or without polarizing cytokines. We used a canine specific IL-17 ELISA and flow cytometry to identify IL-17-producing T cells. Accumulation of intracellular IL-17 was observed in stimulated CD4 and CD8 T cells. The addition of pro-inflammatory cytokines appeared to enhance polarization of canine CD4 T cells to the Th17 phenotype. Conversely, the addition of IL-2 in the presence of TGF-β resulted in expansion of Treg cells. We conclude that canine IL-17-producing cells behave similarly to those from humans and mice when stimulated with mitogens and polarized with pro-inflammatory or immune regulatory cytokines.
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