The differential expression of IL-4 and IL-13 and its impact on type-2 immunity

Cytokine. 2015 Sep;75(1):25-37. doi: 10.1016/j.cyto.2015.05.008. Epub 2015 Jun 11.


Allergic disease represents a significant global health burden, and disease incidence continues to rise in urban areas of the world. As such, a better understanding of the basic immune mechanisms underlying disease pathology are key to developing therapeutic interventions to both prevent disease onset as well as to ameliorate disease morbidity in those individuals already suffering from a disorder linked to type-2 inflammation. Two factors central to type-2 immunity are interleukin (IL)-4 and IL-13, which have been linked to virtually all major hallmarks associated with type-2 inflammation. Therefore, IL-4 and IL-13 and their regulatory pathways represent ideal targets to suppress disease. Despite sharing many common regulatory pathways and receptors, these cytokines perform very distinct functions during a type-2 immune response. This review summarizes the literature surrounding the function and expression of IL-4 and IL-13 in CD4+ T cells and innate immune cells. It highlights recent findings in vivo regarding the differential expression and non-canonical regulation of IL-4 and IL-13 in various immune cells, which likely play important and underappreciated roles in type-2 immunity.

Keywords: Follicular T-helper cell; Interleukin-13; Interleukin-4; Th2 cell; Type-2 immunity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Immune System / physiology
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Interleukin-13 / immunology*
  • Interleukin-4 / immunology*
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / metabolism
  • STAT6 Transcription Factor / metabolism
  • Th2 Cells / cytology


  • Cytokines
  • IL13 protein, human
  • IL4 protein, human
  • Interleukin-13
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • STAT6 Transcription Factor
  • Interleukin-4