IL-33 attenuates EAE by suppressing IL-17 and IFN-γ production and inducing alternatively activated macrophages

Hui-Rong Jiang, Marija Milovanović, Debbie Allan, Wanda Niedbala, Anne-Galle Besnard, Sandra Y Fukada, Jose C Alves-Filho, Dieudonnée Togbe, Carl S Goodyear, Christopher Linington, Damo Xu, Miodrag L Lukic, Foo Y Liew

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210 Citations (Scopus)


Interleukin (IL)-33, a member of the IL-1 cytokine family, is an important modulator of the immune system associated with several immune-mediated disorders. High levels of IL-33 are expressed by the central nervous system (CNS) suggesting a potential role of IL-33 in autoimmune CNS diseases. We have investigated the expression and function of IL-33 in the development of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) in mice. We report here that IL-33 and its receptor ST2 (IL-33Rα) are highly expressed in spinal cord tissue, and ST2 expression is markedly increased in the spinal cords of mice with EAE. Furthermore, ST2-deficient (ST2(-/-) ) mice developed exacerbated EAE compared with wild-type (WT) mice while WT, but not ST2(-/-) EAE mice treated with IL-33 developed significantly attenuated disease. IL-33-treated mice had reduced levels of IL-17 and IFN-γ but produced increased amounts of IL-5 and IL-13. Lymph node and splenic macrophages of IL-33-treated mice showed polarization toward an alternatively activated macrophage (M2) phenotype with significantly increased frequency of MR(+) PD-L2(+) cells. Importantly, adoptive transfer of these IL-33-treated macrophages attenuated EAE development. Our data therefore demonstrate that IL-33 plays a therapeutic role in autoimmune CNS disease by switching a predominantly pathogenic Th17/Th1 response to Th2 activity, and by polarization of anti-inflammatory M2 macrophages.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1804–1814
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Issue number7
Early online date12 Jun 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012


  • experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis
  • IL-33
  • M2 macrophages
  • Th17/Th1

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