Interleukin-22 (IL-22) is a recently described IL-10 family cytokine that is produced by T helper (Th) 17 cells, γδ T cells, NKT cells, and newly described innate lymphoid cells (ILCs). Knowledge of IL-22 biology has evolved rapidly since its discovery in 2000, and a role for IL-22 has been identified in numerous tissues, including the intestines, lung, liver, kidney, thymus, pancreas, and skin. IL-22 primarily targets nonhematopoietic epithelial and stromal cells, where it can promote proliferation and play a role in tissue regeneration. In addition, IL-22 regulates host defense at barrier surfaces. However, IL-22 has also been linked to several conditions involving inflammatory tissue pathology. In this review, we assess the current understanding of this cytokine, including its physiologic and pathologic effects on epithelial cell function.
Keywords: epithelial cells; interleukin-22; tissue regeneration.