Bacterial pathogenesis and interleukin-17: Interconnecting mechanisms of immune regulation, host genetics, and microbial virulence that influence severity of infection

Michelle N. Chamoun, Antje Blumenthal, Matthew J. Sullivan, Mark A. Schembri, Glen C. Ulett

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Interleukin-17 (IL-17) is a pro-inflammatory cytokine involved in the control of many different disorders, including autoimmune, oncogenic, and diverse infectious diseases. In the context of infectious diseases, IL-17 protects the host against various classes of microorganisms but, intriguingly, can also exacerbate the severity of some infections. The regulation of IL-17 expression stems, in part, from the activity of Interleukin-23 (IL-23), which drives the maturation of different classes of IL-17-producing cells that can alter the course of infection. In this review, we analyze IL-17/IL-23 signalling in bacterial infection, and examine the interconnecting mechanisms that link immune regulation, host genetics, and microbial virulence in the context of bacterial pathogenesis. We consider the roles of IL-17 in both acute and chronic bacterial infections, with a focus on mouse models of human bacterial disease that involve infection of mucosal surfaces in the lungs, urogenital, and gastrointestinal tracts. Polymorphisms in IL-17-encoding genes in humans, which have been associated with heightened host susceptibility to some bacterial pathogens, are discussed. Finally, we examine the implications of IL-17 biology in infectious diseases for the development of novel therapeutic strategies targeted at preventing bacterial infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-486
Number of pages22
JournalCritical Reviews in Microbiology
Issue number4
Early online date18 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Bacterial pathogenesis
  • host–pathogen interactions
  • infection
  • innate immunity
  • interleukin-17

Cite this