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Clinical and Developmental Immunology
Volume 2013, Article ID 957878, 11 pages
Review Article

The Multifaceted Role of Th17 Lymphocytes and Their Associated Cytokines in Cancer

1Cancer Biology Graduate Interdisciplinary Program and Department of Pediatrics, Steele Children’s Research Center, University of Arizona, 1501 N. Campbell Avenue, P.O. Box 245073, Tucson, AZ 85724-5073, USA
2Department of Immunobiology, BIO5 Institute and Arizona Cancer Center, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85724, USA

Received 22 March 2013; Accepted 11 December 2013

Academic Editor: William O’Connor Jr.

Copyright © 2013 Darya Alizadeh et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


While the role of T helper 17 lymphocytes (Th17) in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases and in infectious immunity has been relatively well defined, the impact of these cells and their associated cytokines on cancer development is still under debate. Although multiple reports have indicated that Th17 can promote anticancer immunity, others have argued that these cells may exhibit tumor-promoting properties. This dichotomy in the function of Th17 lymphocytes in cancer may be related to the versatile nature of these cells, being capable of differentiating into either proinflammatory Th1 or suppressive FoxP3-expressing Treg cells or hybrid T cell subsets depending on the underlying environmental conditions. In the current review, we examine the role of Th17 lymphocytes and Th17-associated cytokines in cancer and discuss how factors that control their final lineage commitment decision may influence the balance between their tumor-promoting versus tumor-suppressing properties.