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The frequency of Th17cells in the small intestine exhibits a day-night variation dependent on circadian clock activity

Thu Le, HP;Nakamura, Y;Oh-Oka, K;Ishimaru, K;Nakajima, S;Nakao, A;

Interleukin-17-producing CD4(+) T helper (Th17) cells are a key immune lineage that protects against bacterial and fungal infections at mucosal surfaces. At steady state, Th17 cells are abundant in the small intestinal mucosa of mice. There are several mechanisms for regulating the population of Th17 cells in the small intestine, reflecting the importance of maintaining their numbers in the correct balance. Here we demonstrate the existence of a time-of-day-dependent variation in the frequency of Th17 cells in the lamina propria of the small intestine in wild-type mice, which was not observed in mice with a loss-of-function mutation of the core circadian gene Clock or in mice housed under aberrant light/dark conditions. Consistent with this, expression of CCL20, a chemokine that regulates homeostatic trafficking of Th17 cells to the small intestine, exhibited circadian rhythms in the small intestine of wild-type, but not Clock-mutated, mice. In support of these observations, the magnitude of ovalbumin (OVA)-specific antibody and T-cell responses in mice sensitized with OVA plus cholera toxin, a mucosal Th17 cell-dependent adjuvant, was correlated with daily variations in the proportion of Th17 cells in the small intestine. These results suggest that the proportion of Th17 cells in the small intestine exhibits a day-night variation in association with CCL20 expression, which depends on circadian clock activity. The findings provide novel insight into the regulation of the Th17 cell population in the small intestine at steady state, which may have translational potential for mucosal vaccination strategies.