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Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2014;380:213-36. doi: 10.1007/978-3-662-43492-5_10.

Role of IL-22 in microbial host defense.

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Department of Immunology, Genentech, Inc., 1 DNA Way, South San Francisco, CA, 94080, USA,


Interleukin (IL)-22 is a member of the IL-10 family of cytokines, which, besides IL-10, contains seven additional cytokines. Although the founding member IL-10 is an important immunoregulatory cytokine that represses both innate and adaptive immunity, the other family members preferentially target epithelial cells and enhance innate host defense mechanisms against various pathogens such as bacteria, yeast, and viruses. Based on their functions, the IL-10 family can be further divided into three subgroups, IL-10 itself, the IL-20 subfamily, and the IFNλ subfamily. IL-22 is the best-studied member of the IL-20 subfamily, and exemplifies the diverse biological effects of this subfamily. IL-22 elicits various innate immune responses from epithelial cells and is essential for host defense against several invading pathogens, including Citrobacter rodentium and Klebsiella pneumonia. IL-22 also protects tissue integrity and maintains the mucosal homeostasis. On the other hand, IL-22 is a proinflammatory cytokine with the capacity to amplify inflammatory responses, which might result in tissue damage, e.g., the IL-22-dependent necrosis of the small intestine during Toxoplasma gondii infection.

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