Interleukin-21 (IL-21)-mediated pathways in T cell-mediated disease

Cytokine Growth Factor Rev. 2009 Apr;20(2):185-91. doi: 10.1016/j.cytogfr.2009.02.002. Epub 2009 Mar 3.


Interleukin-21 (IL-21) is produced mostly by activated CD4+ T cells and controls the differentiation and functional activity of effector T helper cells, counteracts the suppressive effects of regulatory T cells, and stimulates non-immune cells to make inflammatory mediators. IL-21-driven tissue damage has been demonstrated in a number of organs, such as the gut, pancreas, and brain. Therefore new treatment modalities to neutralise IL-21 in vivo would be a valuable addition to the therapeutic armamentarium to combat immune-mediated inflammation. Here we describe the emerging role of IL-21 in the initiation and progress of the tissue-damaging inflammatory response in immune-mediated pathologies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / physiopathology
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Interleukins / physiology*
  • Intestines / physiopathology
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / etiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • Receptors, Interleukin-21 / physiology
  • Skin Diseases / physiopathology
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / physiology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / physiology


  • Interleukins
  • Receptors, Interleukin-21
  • interleukin-21