Interleukins (from IL-1 to IL-38), interferons, transforming growth factor β, and TNF-α: Receptors, functions, and roles in diseases

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2016 Oct;138(4):984-1010. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2016.06.033. Epub 2016 Aug 28.


There have been extensive developments on cellular and molecular mechanisms of immune regulation in allergy, asthma, autoimmune diseases, tumor development, organ transplantation, and chronic infections during the last few years. Better understanding the functions, reciprocal regulation, and counterbalance of subsets of immune and inflammatory cells that interact through interleukins, interferons, TNF-α, and TGF-β offer opportunities for immune interventions and novel treatment modalities in the era of development of biological immune response modifiers particularly targeting these molecules or their receptors. More than 60 cytokines have been designated as interleukins since the initial discoveries of monocyte and lymphocyte interleukins (called IL-1 and IL-2, respectively). Studies of transgenic or gene-deficient mice with altered expression of these cytokines or their receptors and analyses of mutations and polymorphisms in human genes that encode these products have provided essential information about their functions. Here we review recent developments on IL-1 to IL-38, TNF-α, TGF-β, and interferons. We highlight recent advances during the last few years in this area and extensively discuss their cellular sources, targets, receptors, signaling pathways, and roles in immune regulation in patients with allergy and asthma and other inflammatory diseases.

Keywords: B cells; Cytokines; T cells; adaptive immune response; allergy and asthma; dendritic cells; humoral immune response; innate immune response; interleukins.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immune System Diseases*
  • Interferons / physiology*
  • Interleukins / physiology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / physiology*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / physiology*


  • IL-38 protein, human
  • Interleukins
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interferons