New insights into the dichotomous role of innate cytokines in gut homeostasis and inflammation

Cytokine. 2012 Sep;59(3):451-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cyto.2012.06.014. Epub 2012 Jul 12.


In addition to their well-known role in acute injury and chronic inflammation, "innate" cytokines play an important role in health and the maintenance of normal immune homeostasis. This group includes the prototypic cytokines IL-1 and TNFα, as well as several other members belonging to the IL-1 and TNF family, such as IL-18, IL-33, IL-36-38, and TL1A. The dichotomous role of these cytokines has been best characterized in the intestine where innate cytokines may play both a protective and a pro-inflammatory role, depending upon the immmunological status of the host or the type and phase of the inflammatory process. This new information has produced novel pathogenetic hypotheses that have important translational implications both in regard to the prevention and treatment of chronic intestinal inflammation, including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, the two major forms of inflammatory bowel disease. This review will discuss and summarize current data regarding the role of IL-1, TNFα, and their family members in regulating gut mucosal homeostasis and chronic intestinal inflammation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytokines / immunology*
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / immunology*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / pathology*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Homeostasis / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Inflammation / pathology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology


  • Cytokines