Choroidal neovascularization (CNV) is a characteristic of age-related macular degeneration. Genome-wide association studies have provided evidence that the immune system is involved in the pathogenesis of age-related macular degeneration; however, the role of inflammatory cytokines in CNV has not been established. In this study, we demonstrated that IL-17 had a strong potential for promoting neovascularization in a vascular endothelial growth factor-independent manner in laser-induced experimental CNV in mice. Infiltrated γδT cells and Thy-1+ innate lymphoid cells, but not Th17 cells, were the main sources of IL-17 in injured eyes. IL-23 was dispensable for IL-17 induction in the eye. Instead, we found that IL-1β and high-mobility group box 1 strongly promoted IL-17 expression by γδT cells. Suppression of IL-1β and high-mobility group box 1, as well as depletion of γδT cells, reduced IL-17 levels and ameliorated experimental CNV. Our findings suggest the existence of a novel inflammatory cytokine network that promotes neovascularization in the eye.
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