Fuseini H, Cephus JY, Wu P, Davis JB, Contreras DC, Gandhi VD, Rathmell JC, Newcomb DC. ERα Signaling Increased IL-17A Production in Th17 Cells by Upregulating IL-23R Expression, Mitochondrial Respiration, and Proliferation. Frontiers in immunology. 10(10). 2740 p. PMID: 31849948 [PubMed] PMCID: PMC6892971
Women have increased prevalence of Th17-mediated autoimmune diseases, including lupus and multiple sclerosis, and severe asthma. While estradiol and progesterone increased IL-17A production in Th17 cells by inhibiting miRNA expression and increasing IL-23 receptor (IL-23R) expression, it remained unclear how estrogen signaling through the canonical nuclear receptors, estrogen receptor α (ERα) and/or ERβ, regulated this pathway. We hypothesized that estrogen signaling through ERα increased IL-23R expression and IL-17A production from Th17 cells. To test this hypothesis, naïve T cells from WT female, WT male, and female mice were differentiated into Th17 cells. IL-17A production and IL-23R expression were significantly increased in Th17 cells from WT female mice compared to Th17 cells from WT male mice. Deletion of ERα ( ), but not ERβ ( ), significantly decreased IL-17A production and IL-23R expression in Th17 cells by limiting IL-23R expression in a dependent manner. ERα deficiency also decreased Th17 cell proliferation as well as decreased T cell metabolism as measured by ATP-linked oxygen consumption rate and proton leakage. Further, we found that expression, a protein involved in mitochondrial respiration through assembly of cytochrome c oxidase in the electron transport chain, was increased in Th17 cells from WT female mice compared to Th17 cells from WT male and female mice. Inhibition of Cox20 decreased IL-17 production in Th17 cells from WT female mice. Combined these studies showed that ERα signaling increased IL-17A production in Th17 cells by upregulating IL-23R expression and promoting mitochondrial respiration and proliferation.