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Biol Chem. 2018 Oct 25;399(11):1325-1337. doi: 10.1515/hsz-2018-0254.

IL-37 affects the occurrence and development of endometriosis by regulating the biological behavior of endometrial stromal cells through multiple signaling pathways.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, The Third Xiangya Hospital of Central South University, No. 138 tongzipo, Yuelu District, Changsha 100730, Hunan, China.


Endometriosis (EMs) is a chronic inflammatory condition. Interleukin (IL)-37 is a member of the IL-1 family and an anti-inflammatory cytokine. This study aimed to evaluate the possible role of IL-37 in the EMs pathogenesis. We investigated the in vivo effect of IL-37 on EMs by injection with recombinant human IL-37 (rhIL-37) into EMs mice. Furthermore, we evaluated the in vitro effects of IL-37 on proliferation, adhesion, migration and invasiveness of endometrial stromal cells (ESCs), and explored whether Wnt/β-catenin and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways were involved in this process. In cultured ESCs, IL-37 overexpression significantly suppressed both protein and mRNA expression of the inflammation-associated cytokines, including IL-1β, IL-6, IL-10 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α). Furthermore, IL-37 overexpression significantly inhibited ESCs proliferation, adhesion, migration, invasion and the activity of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 and MMP-9. In contrast, knockdown of IL-37 exerted the opposite effects. Importantly, the IL-37-mediated action in ESCs was through inactivation of Wnt/β-catenin, p38 MAPK, extracellular signal-related kinases MAPK and c-Jun N-terminal kinase MAPK pathways. Moreover, EMs mice treated with rhIL-37 showed the decreased endometriotic-like lesion size and lesion weight, lower expression of IL-1β, IL-6, IL-10, TNF-α, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-I (ICAM-I) and MMP-2/9 activity in peritoneal fluid compared with the wide type (WT) EMs mice. These findings suggest that IL-37 suppresses cell proliferation, adhesion, migration and invasion of human ESCs through multiple signaling pathways, thereby affecting the occurrence and development of EMs.


IL-37; endometrial stromal cells; endometriosis


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