Interleukin (IL)-10 is the most important cytokine with anti-inflammatory properties besides TGF-β and IL-35. It is produced by activated immune cells, in particular monocytes/macrophages and T cell subsets including Tr1, Treg, and Th1 cells. IL-10 acts through a transmembrane receptor complex, which is composed of IL-10R1 and IL-10R2, and regulates the functions of many different immune cells. In monocytes/macrophages, IL-10 diminishes the production of inflammatory mediators and inhibits antigen presentation, although it enhances their uptake of antigens. Additionally, IL-10 plays an important role in the biology of B cells and T cells. The special physiological relevance of this cytokine lies in the prevention and limitation of over-whelming specific and unspecific immune reactions and, in consequence, of tissue damage. At the same time, IL-10 strengthens the "scavenger"-function and contributes to induced tolerance. This review provides an overview about the cellular sources, molecular mechanisms, effects, and biological role of IL-10.
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