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Semin Immunopathol. 2010 Mar;32(1):17-31. doi: 10.1007/s00281-009-0188-x. Epub 2010 Feb 2.

Biology of interleukin-22.

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  • 1University Hospital Charité, Berlin, Germany.


Interleukin (IL)-22 is a member of the IL-10 family of cytokines and represents an important effector molecule of activated Th22, Th1, and Th17 cells, as well as Tc-cell subsets, gammadelta T cells, natural killer (NK), and NKT cells. IL-22 mediates its effects via a heterodimeric transmembrane receptor complex consisting of IL-22R1 and IL-10R2 and subsequent Janus kinase-signal transducers and activators of transcription (JAK-STAT) signaling pathways including Jak1, Tyk2, and STAT3. Whereas in some aspects, IL-22 acts synergistically with tumor necrosis factor-alpha, IL-1beta, or IL-17, most functions of IL-22 are unique. Importantly, IL-22 does not serve the communication between immune cells. It mainly acts on epithelial cells and hepatocytes, where it favors the antimicrobial defense, regeneration, and protection against damage and induces acute phase reactants and some chemokines. This chapter illuminates in detail the properties of IL-22 with respect to its gene, protein structure, cellular sources, receptors, target cells, biological effects, and, finally, its role in chronic inflammatory diseases, tumors, and infection.

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