Interleukin-17A (IL-17A) is a cytokine produced by T helper 17 (Th17) cells and plays important roles in the development of inflammatory diseases. Although IL-17F is highly homologous to IL-17A and binds the same receptor, the functional roles of this molecule remain largely unknown. Here, we demonstrated with Il17a(-/-), Il17f(-/-), and Il17a(-/-)Il17f(-/-) mice that IL-17F played only marginal roles, if at all, in the development of delayed-type and contact hypersensitivities, autoimmune encephalomyelitis, collagen-induced arthritis, and arthritis in Il1rn(-/-) mice. In contrast, both IL-17F and IL-17A were involved in host defense against mucoepithelial infection by Staphylococcus aureus and Citrobacter rodentium. IL-17A was produced mainly in T cells, whereas IL-17F was produced in T cells, innate immune cells, and epithelial cells. Although only IL-17A efficiently induced cytokines in macrophages, both cytokines activated epithelial innate immune responses. These observations indicate that IL-17A and IL-17F have overlapping yet distinct roles in host immune and defense mechanisms.
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