ST2 is a member of the interleukin 1 receptor family with 2 main isoforms: transmembrane or cellular (ST2L) and soluble or circulating (sST2) forms. ST2 is the receptor of the IL-33, which is an IL-1-like cytokine that can be secreted by living cells in response to cell damage. IL-33 exerts its cellular functions by binding a receptor complex composed of ST2L and IL-1R accessory protein. The IL-33/ST2 system is upregulated in cardiomyocytes and fibroblasts as response to mechanical stimulation or injury. The interaction between IL33 and ST2L has been demonstrated to be cardioprotective: in experimental models, this interaction reduces myocardial fibrosis, prevents cardiomyocyte hypertrophy, reduces apoptosis, and improves myocardial function. The beneficial effects of IL-33 are specifically through the ST2L receptor. sST2 avidly binds IL-33 which results in interruption of the interaction between IL-33/ST2L and consequently eliminates the antiremodeling effects; thus, sST2 is viewed as a decoy receptor. In recent years, knowledge about ST2 role in the pathophysiology of cardiovascular diseases has broadly expanded, with strong links to myocardial dysfunction, fibrosis, and remodeling. Beyond its myocardial role, the IL-33/ST2 system could have an additional role in the development and progression of atherosclerosis. In conclusion, IL-33/ST2L signaling is a mechanically activated, cardioprotective fibroblast-cardiomyocyte paracrine system, which may have therapeutic potential for beneficially regulating the myocardial response to overload and injury. In contrast, sST2 acts as a decoy receptor and, by sequestering IL-33, antagonizes the cardioprotective effects of IL-33/ST2L interaction.
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