Background: IL-21, a member of the common y-chain utilizing family of cytokines, participates in immune and inflammatory processes. In addition, the cytokine has been linked to autoimmunity in humans and rodents. Methodology/Principal Findings: To investigate the mechanism whereby IL-21 affects the immune system, we investigated its role in T cell homeostasis and autoimmunity in both non-autoimmune C578L/6 and autoimmune NOD mice. Our data indicate that IL-21R knockout CS7BL/6 and NOD mice show increased size of their lymphocyte population and decreased homeostatic proliferation. In addition, our experimental results demonstrate that IL-21 inhibits T cell survival. These data suggest that IL-21 acts to limit the size of the T cell pool. Furthermore, our data suggest IL-21 may contribute to the development of autoimmunity. Conclusions/Significance: Taken together, our results suggest that IL-21 plays a global role in regulating T cell homeostasis, promoting the continuous adaptation of the T cell lymphoid space.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)