BACKGROUND - Prostaglandin I(2) (PGI(2)), a lipid mediator currently used in treatment of human disease, is a critical regulator of adaptive immune responses. Although PGI(2) signaling suppressed Th1 and Th2 immune responses, the role of PGI(2) in Th17 differentiation is not known.
METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS - In mouse CD4(+)CD62L(+) naïve T cell culture, the PGI(2) analogs iloprost and cicaprost increased IL-17A and IL-22 protein production and Th17 differentiation in vitro. This effect was augmented by IL-23 and was dependent on PGI(2) receptor IP signaling. In mouse bone marrow-derived CD11c(+) dendritic cells (BMDCs), PGI(2) analogs increased the ratio of IL-23/IL-12, which is correlated with increased ability of BMDCs to stimulate naïve T cells for IL-17A production. Moreover, IP knockout mice had delayed onset of a Th17-associated neurological disease, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), and reduced infiltration of IL-17A-expressing mononuclear cells in the spinal cords compared to wild type mice. These results suggest that PGI(2) promotes in vivo Th17 responses.
CONCLUSION - The preferential stimulation of Th17 differentiation by IP signaling may have important clinical implications as PGI(2) and its analogs are commonly used to treat human pulmonary hypertension.