Proinflammatory interleukin-33 induces dichotomic effects on cell proliferation in normal gastric epithelium and gastric cancer

Laura Francesca Pisani, Gian Eugenio Tontini, Carmine Gentile, Beatrice Marinoni, Isabella Teani, Nicoletta Nandi, Pasquale Creo, Emanuele Asti, Luigi Bonavina, Maurizio Vecchi, Luca Pastorelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Interleukin (IL)-33 is a member of the interleukin (IL)-1 family of cytokines linked to the development of inflammatory conditions and cancer in the gastrointestinal tract. This study is designed to investigate whether IL-33 has a direct effect on human gastric epithelial cells (GES-1), the human gastric adenocarcinoma cell line (AGS), and the gastric carcinoma cell line (NCI-N87) by assessing its role in the regulation of cell proliferation, migration, cell cycle, and apoptosis. Cell cycle regulation was also determined in ex vivo gastric cancer samples obtained during endoscopy and surgical procedures. Cell lines and tissue samples underwent stimulation with rhIL-33. Proliferation was assessed by XTT and CFSE assays, migration by wound healing assay, and apoptosis by caspase 3/7 activity assay and annexin V assay. Cell cycle was analyzed by means of propidium iodine assay, and gene expression regulation was assessed by RT-PCR profiling. We found that IL-33 has an antiproliferative and proapoptotic effect on cancer cell lines, and it can stimulate proliferation and reduce apoptosis in normal epithelial cell lines. These effects were also confirmed by the analysis of cell cycle gene expression, which showed a reduced expression of pro-proliferative genes in cancer cells, particularly in genes involved in G0/G1 and G2/M checkpoints. These results were confirmed by gene expression analysis on bioptic and surgical specimens. The aforementioned results indicate that IL-33 may be involved in cell proliferation in an environment-and cell-type-dependent manner.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5792
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2021


  • Apoptosis
  • Cell cycle
  • Gastric cancer
  • Gastric epithelium
  • Interleukin-33
  • Proliferation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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