Evolved to protect, designed to destroy: IL-17-producing γδ T cells in infection, inflammation, and cancer

Rasmus Agerholm, Vasileios Bekiaris*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReviewpeer-review

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T cells of the gamma delta (γδ) lineage are evolutionary conserved from jawless to cartilaginous and bony fish to mammals and represent the “swiss army knife” of the immune system capable of antigen-dependent or independent responses, memory, antigen presentation, regulation of other lymphocytes, tissue homeostasis, and mucosal barrier maintenance, to list a few. Over the last 10 years, γδ T cells that produce the cytokine IL-17 (γδT17) have taken a leading position in our understanding of how our immune system battles infection, inflicts tissue damage during inflammation, and gets rewired by the tumor microenvironment. A lot of what we know about γδT17 cells stems from mouse models, however, increasing evidence implicates these cells in numerous human diseases. Herein, we aim to give an overview of the most common mouse models that have been used to study the role of γδT17 cells in infection, inflammation, and cancer, while at the same time we will evaluate evidence for their importance in humans. We hope and believe that in the next 10 years, means to take advantage of the protective and destructive properties of γδ T and in particular γδT17 cells will be part of our standard immunotherapy toolkit.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)2164-2177
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by funding to V.B. from the Danish Cancer Society (Kræftens Bekæmpelse Grant number R269‐A15747), the Leo Foundation (Leo Fondet Grant number LF‐OC‐20‐000550), and the Novo Nordisk Foundation (Novo Nordisk Fondet Grant number NNF20OC0065160). Figures and illustrations were prepared using BioRender.com.


  • Cancer
  • IL-17
  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • γδ T cells


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