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Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 1997 Dec;79(6):469-83.

Interleukin-10: biology, role in inflammation and autoimmunity.

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Department of Oral Medicine, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Erratum in

  • Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 1998 Mar;80(3):A-6.



Reading this article will increase the readers' knowledge of the biology of interleukin-10 (IL-10) an important cytokine. The survival of an organism and its host defense mechanisms require, among other processes, a complex but target-oriented interaction and an interdependence between the immune and inflammatory pathways. The biologic role of interleukin-10 in these processes is presented as well as the possible involvement of IL-10 in the pathogenesis of various diseases. The influence of pharmacologic agents on IL-10 production and the possible pharmacologic role of IL-10 itself are discussed.


A detailed literature search was conducted. Studies considered relevant and important involving both humans and animals, in all languages were used.


Material was taken only from peer reviewed journals.


IL-10 is produced by CD4+, Tho, Th1, B lymphocytes, mast cells, eosinophils, monocytes, macrophages and keratinocytes. IL-10 has a diverse array of actions, which differ depending on cell type, nature of stimulus and the cellular microenvironment. Interleukin-10 has an important role in the inflammatory and immune systems. In addition, present studies suggest that IL-10 may well play a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of several diseases. It has the potential for therapeutic use. Most of the data on IL-10 have been obtained from in vitro studies or animal experiments. Studies on humans are few, but rapidly increasing.


Interleukin-10 is an important molecule with a central role in maintaining health and in the pathogenesis of disease. Known pharmacologic agents and some under investigation can modify IL-10 production in vivo. Development of agents that can selectively affect a very specific biologic action of IL-10 may provide significant benefit in treating autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

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