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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Apr 27;107(17):8017-22. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0912678107. Epub 2010 Apr 12.

Epithelial-derived IL-33 and its receptor ST2 are dysregulated in ulcerative colitis and in experimental Th1/Th2 driven enteritis.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA.


IL-33 is a novel member of the IL-1 family and ligand for the IL-1 receptor-related protein, ST2. Recent evidence suggests that the IL-33/ST2 axis plays a critical role in several autoimmune and inflammatory disorders; however, its role in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has not been clearly defined. We characterized IL-33 and ST2 expression and modulation after conventional anti-TNF therapy in Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis (UC) patients and investigated the role of IL-33 in SAMP1/YitFc (SAMP) mice, a mixed Th1/Th2 model of IBD. Our results showed a specific increase of mucosal IL-33 in active UC, localized primarily to intestinal epithelial cells (IEC) and colonic inflammatory infiltrates. Importantly, increased expression of full-length IL-33, representing the most bioactive form, was detected in UC epithelium, whereas elevated levels of cleaved IL-33 were present in IBD serum. ST2 isoforms were differentially modulated in UC epithelium, and sST2, a soluble decoy receptor with anti-inflammatory properties, was also elevated in IBD serum. Infliximab (anti-TNF) treatment of UC decreased circulating IL-33 and increased sST2, whereas stimulation of HT-29 IEC confirmed IL-33 and sST2 regulation by TNF. Similarly, IL-33 significantly increased and correlated with disease severity, and potently induced IL-5, IL-6, and IL-17 from mucosal immune cells in SAMP mice. Taken together, the IL-33/ST2 system plays an important role in IBD and experimental colitis, is modulated by anti-TNF therapy, and may represent a specific biomarker for active UC.

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