The neutrophil antimicrobial peptide cathelicidin promotes Th17 differentiation

Minns, Danielle and Smith, Katie and Alessandrini, Virginia and Hardisty, Gareth and Melrose, Lauren and Jackson-Jones, Lucy and MacDonald, Andrew S and Davidson, Donald and Gwyer Findlay, Emily (2021) The neutrophil antimicrobial peptide cathelicidin promotes Th17 differentiation. Nature Communications, 12. ISSN 2041-1723

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The host defence peptide cathelicidin (LL-37 in humans, mCRAMP in mice) is released from neutrophils by de-granulation, NETosis and necrotic death; it has potent anti-pathogen activity as well as being a broad immunomodulator. Here we report that cathelicidin is a powerful Th17 potentiator which enhances aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) and RORγt expression, in a TGF-β1-dependent manner. In the presence of TGF-β1, cathelicidin enhanced SMAD2/3 and STAT3 phosphorylation, and profoundly suppressed IL-2 and T-bet, directing T cells away from Th1 and into a Th17 phenotype. Strikingly, Th17 but not Th1 cells were protected from apoptosis by cathelicidin. We show that cathelicidin is released by neutrophils in mouse lymph nodes and that cathelicidin-deficient mice display suppressed Th17 responses during inflammation, but not at steady state. We propose that the neutrophil cathelicidin is required for maximal Th17 differentiation, and that this is one method by which early neutrophilia directs subsequent adaptive immune responses.

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Journal Article
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Nature Communications
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29 Jan 2021 21:15
Last Modified:
22 Nov 2022 09:52