IL-10 in humans: lessons from the gut, IL-10/IL-10 receptor deficiencies, and IL-10 polymorphisms

Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2014;380:1-18. doi: 10.1007/978-3-662-43492-5_1.


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) represents a heterogeneous group of gastrointestinal disorders, where commensal gut flora provokes an either (a) insufficient or (b) uncontrolled immune response. This results either in a lack of or in excessive inflammation mainly manifesting as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. IBD commonly presents in adolescence and adulthood and often follows a chronic relapsing course. Genetic and/or environmental factors contribute to the failure of gut immune homeostasis. Genome-wide association studies have identified over 160 susceptibility loci associated with IBD, including polymorphisms in interleukin-10 (IL-10). The anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 dampens intestinal inflammation and is therefore a good candidate gene for IBD. Polymorphisms in the IL-10 receptor are also associated with ulcerative colitis presenting in early childhood. Moreover, severe infantile enterocolitis resembling Crohn's disease, caused by loss-of-function mutations in IL-10 and IL-10 receptor, is characterised by a very early onset (usually within the first 3 months of life), unresponsiveness to standard treatment including immunosuppressive therapy, and severe perianal disease with abscesses and fistulas. In these patients, inflammation and polymorphic infiltrates are mainly confined to the colon with very little involvement of the small intestine. Ulceration and granulomas, bloody diarrhoea and failure to thrive also occur. Furthermore, patients may suffer from recurrent fever and respiratory infections. Individuals with IL-10 receptor mutations also experience cutaneous folliculitis and arthritis. Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is currently the only curative therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / etiology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / genetics
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / therapy
  • Interleukin-10 / deficiency
  • Interleukin-10 / genetics
  • Interleukin-10 / physiology*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Receptors, Interleukin-10 / deficiency
  • Receptors, Interleukin-10 / genetics
  • Receptors, Interleukin-10 / physiology*


  • Receptors, Interleukin-10
  • Interleukin-10