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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 2015, Article ID 751793, 12 pages
Review Article

Altered Immunoregulation in Rheumatoid Arthritis: The Role of Regulatory T Cells and Proinflammatory Th17 Cells and Therapeutic Implications

1Rheumatology Unit, Department of Medicine, University of Perugia, 06132 Perugia, Italy
2Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine, Section of Anatomy and Histology, University of Florence, 50134 Florence, Italy

Received 13 January 2015; Revised 16 March 2015; Accepted 17 March 2015

Academic Editor: Denis Girard

Copyright © 2015 Alessia Alunno 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.


In recent years several studies investigated the role of T lymphocyte subpopulations in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Pathogenic Th17 cells mediate pannus growth, osteoclastogenesis, and synovial neoangiogenesis; hence they are key players in the development of the disease. On the other hand, regulatory T (Treg) cells are a T cell subset whose peculiar function is to suppress autoreactive lymphocytes. The imbalance between Th17 and Treg cells has been identified as a crucial event in the pathogenesis of RA. In addition, the effects of currently employed RA therapeutic strategies on these lymphocyte subpopulations have been extensively investigated. This review article aims to discuss current knowledge on Treg and Th17 cells in RA and possible implications of their therapeutic targeting in this disorder.