IL-17 mediates inflammatory reactions via p38/c-Fos and JNK/c-Jun activation in an AP-1-dependent manner in human nucleus pulposus cells
Numerous studies have revealed the presence of T helper 17 (Th17) cells in pathologic intervertebral disk (IVD) tissues and the contribution of Th17-associated cytokines to the development of this disease. However, the pre- and postoperative changes in the proportion of Th17 cells and the concentration of IL-17 in the peripheral blood of patients with IVD degeneration are not clear. The levels of Th17 frequency and the interleukin-17 (IL-17) concentration in peripheral blood from patients and volunteers were examined by flow cytometry and by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), respectively. The clinical results were evaluated using the visual analogue scale (VAS). These results were subjected to a correlation analysis. Compared with the normal controls, the proportion of Th17 cells and the concentration of IL-17 were significantly increased preoperatively in patients with IVD degeneration. Postoperatively, the levels of Th17 cells and the expression of IL-17 were dramatically decreased. The correlation analysis of the VAS pain scores, Th17 cell frequency, and IL-17 concentration, including the pre- and postoperative levels and the changes induced by the surgery, revealed a positive correlation. The authors' results explain the contribution of Th17 cells and IL-17 to the pain sensation experienced by patients with IVD degeneration. These 2 factors may be good indicators for the evaluation of the surgical outcome of patients with lumbar disk herniation.