Interleukin-17 (IL-17) is a proinflammatory cytokine produced by adaptive CD4+ T helper cells and innate lymphocytes, such as γδ-T cells and TCRβ+ “natural” Th17 cells. IL-17 activates signaling through the IL-17 receptor, which induces other proinflammatory cytokines, antimicrobial peptides and neutrophil chemokines that are important for antifungal activity. The importance of IL-17 in protective antifungal immunity is evident in mice and humans, where various genetic defects related to the IL-17-signaling pathway render them highly susceptible to forms of candidiasis such oropharyngeal candidiasis (OPC) or more broadly chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis (CMC), both caused mainly by the opportunistic fungal pathogen Candida albicans
. OPC is common in infants and the elderly, HIV/AIDS and patients receiving chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy for head and neck cancers. This review focuses on the role of IL-17 in protection against candidiasis, and includes a brief discussion of non-Candida albicans
fungal infections, as well as how therapeutic interventions blocking IL-17-related components can affect antifungal immunity.
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