Profibrotic effect of IL-17A and elevated IL-17RA in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and rheumatoid arthritis-associated lung disease support a direct role for IL-17A/IL-17RA in human fibrotic interstitial lung disease

Jie Zhang, Dan Wang, Lei Wang, Shaohua Wang, Anja C. Roden, Hao Zhao, Xiujuan Li, X. Y.S. Prakash, Eric L. Matteson, Daniel J. Tschumperlin, Robert Vassallo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations


Interleukin (IL)-17 is a T helper 17 cytokine implicated in the pathogenesis of many autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Although IL-17A has a well-established role in murine pulmonary fibrosis models, its role in the tissue remodeling and fibrosis occurring in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and RAassociated interstitial lung disease (RA-ILD) is not very well defined. To address this question, we utilized complimentary studies to determine responsiveness of human normal and pathogenic lung fibroblasts to IL-17A and used lung biopsies acquired from patients with IPF and RA-ILD to determine IL-17A receptor (IL-17RA) expression. Both normal and pathogenic IPF lung fibroblasts express functional IL- 17RA and respond to IL-17A stimulation with cell proliferation, generation of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins, and induction of myofibroblast transdifferentiation. Small interfering RNA (siRNA) silencing of IL-17RA attenuated this fibroblast response to IL-17A on ECM production. These fibroblast responses to IL-17A are dependent on NF- k B-mediated signaling. In addition, inhibiting Janus activated kinase (JAK) 2 by either siRNA or a selective pharmacological inhibitor, AZD1480-but not a JAK1/JAK3 selective inhibitor, tofacitinib-also significantly reduced this IL-17A-induced fibrogenic response. Lung biopsies of RA-ILD patients demonstrate significantly higher IL-17RA expression in areas of fibroblast accumulation and fibrosis, compared with either IPF or normal lung tissue. These observations support a direct role for IL-17A in lung fibrosis that may be particularly relevant in the context of RA-ILD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L487-L497
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2019



  • Human lung fibroblast
  • IL-17A
  • IL-17RA
  • IPF
  • JAK inhibitors
  • NF- B
  • RA-ILD
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • STAT3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology

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