Interleukin-33 - cytokine of dual function or novel alarmin?

Trends Immunol. 2009 May;30(5):227-33. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2009 Apr 7.


Cytokines are thought to exert biological effects through their specific cell surface membrane receptors but increasing evidence suggests that some also function within the nucleus. Here, we review current knowledge of such cytokines, including the novel interleukin (IL)-1 family member IL-33. Its extracellular function has attracted much recent attention as a ligand for the Th2-associated ST2 receptor, but the discoveries of its nuclear functions and modes of secretion are only just beginning to surface. We review the currently available data on IL-33 regulation, nuclear function and release and discuss them in the context of other intranuclear cytokines and the prototype alarmin HMGB1, considering to what extent IL-33 can be seen as a novel member of the alarmin family.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytokines / physiology
  • HMGB1 Protein / physiology
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1 / physiology
  • Interleukin-33
  • Interleukins / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Nuclear Proteins / physiology


  • Cytokines
  • HMGB1 Protein
  • IL33 protein, human
  • Interleukin-1
  • Interleukin-33
  • Interleukins
  • Nuclear Proteins