Interleukin-17 synergizes with IFNγ or TNFα to promote inflammatory mediator release and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) expression in human intervertebral disc cells


Interleukin-17 (IL-17) is a cytokine recently shown to be elevated, along with interferon-γ (IFNγ) and tumor necrosis factor (TNFα), in degenerated and herniated intervertebral disc (IVD) tissues, suggesting a role for these cytokines in intervertebral disc disease. The objective of our study was to investigate the involvement of IL-17 and costimulants IFNγ and TNFα in intervertebral disc pathology. Cells were isolated from anulus fibrosus and nucleus pulposus tissues of patients undergoing surgery for intervertebral disc degeneration or scoliosis. The production of inflammatory mediators, nitric oxide (NOx), prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and interleukin-6 (IL-6), as well as intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM-1) expression, were quantified for cultured cells following exposure to IL-17, IFNγ and TNFα. Intervertebral disc cells exposed to IL-17, IFNγ or TNFα showed a remarkable increase in inflammatory mediator release and ICAM-1 expression (GLM and ANOVA, p<0.05). Addition of IFNγ or TNFα to IL-17 demonstrated a synergistic increase in inflammatory mediator release, and a marked increase in ICAM-1 expression. These findings suggest that IVD cells not only respond with a catabolic phenotype to IL-17 and costimulants IFNγ and TNFα, but also express surface ligands with consequent potential to recruit additional lymphocytes and immune cells to the IVD microenvironment. IL-17 may be an important regulator of inflammation in the IVD pathologies.





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Publication Info

Allen, Kyle D, Jun Chen, Robert Fitch, Mostafa A Gabr, Antonia R Helbling, Liufang Jing, William J Richardson, Lori A Setton, et al. (2011). Interleukin-17 synergizes with IFNγ or TNFα to promote inflammatory mediator release and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) expression in human intervertebral disc cells. 10.1002/jor.2120 Retrieved from

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William James Richardson

Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery
  1. Current research includes investigation of biomechanical aspects of cervical injury with head impact. This involves cadaveric work with high-speed photography and load cells to ascertain the mechanism for spinal fractures.

    2. An animal model is being used to evaluate the biomechanics of cervical laminectomy versus laminoplasty compared to the normal spine. A portion of the animals are developing myelopathy secondary to instability after the surgical procedure and this is being evaluated with MRI scanning as well as mechanical and radiographic testing.

    3. Studies are being performed to develop an impedance pedicle probe to aid safe insertion of pedicular instrumentation in the lumbar spine. Ongoing studies are being performed to define the optimal frequency for the probe to yield the most sensitive and specific device. Hopefully this will lead to development of a device for human use. Studies will compare impedance probe to currently used EMG techniques to see if combing them will lead to greater sensitivity and specificity.

    4. Studies are being completed on testing particular pull-out strength and doing a multi-varied analysis looking at size of the pedicle and bone density by two different techniques.

    5. Current work is ongoing to develop an outcomes instrument and database to be used in the outpatient setting for patients with spinal complaints, both cervical and lumbar. The device will be used to evaluate clinical effectiveness for a variety of treatments for spinal conditions and to look at patient satisfaction issues.

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