IL-10 promotes production of intestinal mucus by suppressing protein misfolding and endoplasmic reticulum stress in goblet cells

Gastroenterology. 2013 Feb;144(2):357-368.e9. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2012.10.043. Epub 2012 Oct 31.


Background & aims: Protein misfolding and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress have been observed in intestinal secretory cells from patients with inflammatory bowel diseases and induce intestinal inflammation in mice. However, it is not clear how immune factors affect ER stress and therefore disease symptoms.

Methods: We analyzed the effects of interleukin (IL)-10 on ER stress in intestinal tissues in wild-type C57BL/6, Winnie, IL-10(-/-), and Winnie × IL-10(+/-) mice. In Winnie mice, misfolding of the intestinal mucin Muc2 initiates ER stress and inflammation. We also analyzed the effects of different inhibitors of IL-10 signaling and the N-glycosylation inhibitor tunicamycin in cultured human LS174T goblet cells.

Results: Administration of neutralizing antibodies against IL-10 or its receptor (IL-10R1) to Winnie mice rapidly exacerbated ER stress and intestinal inflammation compared with mice given vehicle (controls). Antibodies against IL-10 also increased accumulation of misfolded Muc2 in the ER of goblet cells of Winnie mice and increased T-cell production of inflammatory cytokines. Winnie × IL-10(+/-) mice and IL-10(-/-) mice with a single Winnie allele each developed more severe inflammation than Winnie mice or IL-10(-/-) mice. Administration of tunicamycin to wild-type mice caused intestinal ER stress, which increased when IL-10R1 was blocked. In LS174T cells, induction of ER stress with tunicamycin and misfolding of MUC2 were reduced by administration of IL-10; this reduction required STAT1 and STAT3. In LS174T cells incubated with tunicamycin, IL-10 up-regulated genes involved in MUC2 folding and in ER-associated degradation and maintained correct folding of MUC2, its transport from the ER, and its O-glycosylation and secretion.

Conclusions: IL-10 prevents protein misfolding and ER stress by maintaining mucin production in goblet cells and helps the intestine preserve the mucus barrier.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / drug effects
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism*
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress / drug effects*
  • Goblet Cells / drug effects
  • Goblet Cells / metabolism*
  • Goblet Cells / pathology
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-10 / pharmacology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / drug effects
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mucus / drug effects
  • Mucus / metabolism*
  • Proteostasis Deficiencies / drug therapy*
  • Proteostasis Deficiencies / metabolism
  • Proteostasis Deficiencies / pathology


  • Interleukin-10