Interleukin-23 drives intestinal inflammation through direct activity on T cells.
Ahern PP., Schiering C., Buonocore S., McGeachy MJ., Cua DJ., Maloy KJ., Powrie F.
Mutations in the IL23R gene are linked to inflammatory bowel disease susceptibility. Experimental models have shown that interleukin-23 (IL-23) orchestrates innate and T cell-dependent colitis; however, the cell populations it acts on to induce intestinal immune pathology are unknown. Here, using Il23r(-/-) T cells, we demonstrated that T cell reactivity to IL-23 was critical for development of intestinal pathology, but not for systemic inflammation. Through direct signaling into T cells, IL-23 drove intestinal T cell proliferation, promoted intestinal Th17 cell accumulation, and enhanced the emergence of an IL-17A(+)IFN-gamma(+) population of T cells. Furthermore, IL-23R signaling in intestinal T cells suppressed the differentiation of Foxp3(+) cells and T cell IL-10 production. Although Il23r(-/-) T cells displayed unimpaired Th1 cell differentiation, these cells showed impaired proliferation and failed to accumulate in the intestine. Together, these results highlight the multiple functions of IL-23 signaling in T cells that contribute to its colitogenic activity.