IL-33: an alarmin cytokine with crucial roles in innate immunity, inflammation and allergy

Curr Opin Immunol. 2014 Dec;31:31-7. doi: 10.1016/j.coi.2014.09.004. Epub 2014 Sep 29.


IL-33 is a nuclear cytokine from the IL-1 family constitutively expressed in epithelial barrier tissues and lymphoid organs, which plays important roles in type-2 innate immunity and human asthma. Recent studies indicate that IL-33 induces production of large amounts of IL-5 and IL-13 by group 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2s), for initiation of allergic inflammation shortly after exposure to allergens or infection with parasites or viruses. IL-33 appears to function as an alarmin (alarm signal) rapidly released from producing cells upon cellular damage or cellular stress. In this review, we discuss the cellular sources, mode of action and regulation of IL-33, and we highlight its crucial roles in vivo with particular emphasis on results obtained using IL33-deficient mice.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asthma / genetics
  • Asthma / immunology*
  • Asthma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Interleukin-33
  • Interleukins / genetics
  • Interleukins / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / immunology*


  • IL33 protein, human
  • Il33 protein, mouse
  • Interleukin-33
  • Interleukins