Interleukin (IL)-33 is a recently identified cytokine belonging to the IL-1 family that is widely expressed throughout the body and has the ability to induce Th2 immune responses. In addition, IL-33 plays a key role in promoting host defenses against parasites through the expansion of a novel population of innate lymphoid cells. In recent years, a growing body of evidence has shown that the proinflammatory properties displayed by IL-33 are detrimental in several experimental models of inflammation; in others, however, IL-33 appears to have protective functions. In 2010, four different research groups consistently described the upregulation of IL-33 in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Animal models of IBD were subsequently utilized in order to mechanistically determine the precise role of IL-33 in chronic intestinal inflammation, without, however, reaching conclusive evidence demonstrating whether IL-33 is pathogenic or protective. Indeed, data generated from these studies suggest that IL-33 may possess dichotomous functions, enhancing inflammatory responses on one hand and promoting epithelial integrity on the other. This review focuses on the available data regarding IL-33/ST2 in the physiological and inflammatory states of the gut in order to speculate on the possible roles of this novel IL-1 family member in intestinal inflammation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology