IL-33 is negatively associated with the BMI and confers a protective lipid/metabolic profile in non-diabetic but not diabetic subjects

BMC Immunol. 2014 May 10;15:19. doi: 10.1186/1471-2172-15-19.


Objective: Recent studies have demonstrated a protective role for IL-33 against obesity-associated inflammation, atherosclerosis and metabolic abnormalities. IL-33 promotes the production of T helper type 2 (Th2) cytokines, polarizes macrophages towards a protective alternatively activated phenotype, reduces lipid storage and decreases the expression of genes associated with lipid metabolism and adipogenesis. Our objective was to determine the level of serum IL-33 in non-diabetic and diabetic subjects, and to correlate these levels with clinical (BMI and body weight) and metabolic (serum lipids and HbA1c) parameters.

Methods: The level of IL-33 was measured in the serum of lean, overweight and obese non-diabetic and diabetic subjects, and then correlated with clinical and metabolic parameters.

Results: Non-lean subjects had significantly (P = 0.01) lower levels of IL-33 compared to lean controls. IL-33 was negatively correlated with the BMI and body weight in lean and overweight, but not obese (non-diabetic and diabetic), subjects. IL-33 is associated with protective lipid profiles, and is negatively correlated with HbA1c, in non-diabetic (lean, overweight and obese) but not diabetic subjects.

Conclusions: Our data support previous findings showing a protective role for IL-33 against adiposity and atherosclerosis, and further suggest that reduced levels of IL-33 may put certain individuals at increased risk of developing atherosclerosis and insulin resistance. Therefore, IL-33 may serve as a novel marker to predict those who may be at increased risk of developing atherosclerosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Body Weight
  • Diabetes Mellitus / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus / metabolism
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-33
  • Interleukins / blood*
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Lipids / blood
  • Metabolome*
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • IL33 protein, human
  • Interleukin-33
  • Interleukins
  • Lipids