Cytokines of the interleukin-1 (IL-1) family, such as IL-1 alpha/beta and IL-18, have important functions in host defense, immune regulation, and inflammation. Insight into their biological functions has led to novel therapeutic approaches to treat human inflammatory diseases. Within the IL-1 family, IL-1 alpha/beta, IL-1Ra, and IL-18 have been matched to their respective receptor complexes and have been shown to have distinct biological functions. The most prominent orphan IL-1 receptor is ST 2. This receptor has been described as a negative regulator of Toll-like receptor-IL-1 receptor signaling, but it also functions as an important effector molecule of T helper type 2 responses. We report a member of the IL-1 family, IL-33, which mediates its biological effects via IL-1 receptor ST 2, activates NF-kappaB and MAP kinases, and drives production of T(H)2-associated cytokines from in vitro polarized T(H)2 cells. In vivo, IL-33 induces the expression of IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13 and leads to severe pathological changes in mucosal organs.
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