Potential Therapeutic Use of IL-37: A Key Suppressor of Innate Immunity and Allergic Immune Responses Mediated by Mast Cells

Immunol Res. 2017 Oct;65(5):982-986. doi: 10.1007/s12026-017-8938-7.


The host response to either exogenous or endogenous insults produces a series of changes, characterized by alterations in immunological functions and generation of mediators called cytokines which include the interleukin-1 (IL-1) family members. IL-1 acts as a hormone mediating the host responses to infection and inflammation. Blocking inflammatory IL-1 family members can be effective against inflammatory disorders, including allergies. IL-37, (formerly IL-1 family member 7), emerges as an inhibitor of innate and adaptive immunity by reducing circulating and organ cytokine levels. IL-37, mainly expressed in dendritic cells, monocytes, and plasma cells after TIR ligand activation, inhibits inflammatory cytokines and augments the level of anti-inflammatory IL-10. IL-37 is involved in allergic reaction and its expression in dendritic cells causes tollerogenicity and inhibits inflammatory response. Mast cells (MCs) are ubiquitous in the body, reside in numerous mucosal tissues, and are mediators of allergic reaction, and innate and adaptive immunity. MCs are important regulators of cytokine generation in the course of inflammatory responses and allergy, and are implicated in the pathophysiology of allergic asthma. Cysteine protease caspase-1 activation leads to the cleavage of pro-form of IL-1 into active mature IL-1 which is present in stimulated and unstimulated inflammatory MCs. Inflammatory cytokine inhibition, along with the augmentation of anti-inflammatory IL-10 by IL-37, is certainly beneficial and improves the pathogenesis of allergic disorders. However, in these studies, the exact mechanism(s) of IL-37-induced anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic activity along with its side effect(s) remain to be determined.

Keywords: Allergy; IL-37; Immune response; Inflammation; Mast cells.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity
  • Animals
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Inflammation
  • Interleukin-1 / immunology*
  • Mast Cells / physiology*


  • Cytokines
  • IL37 protein, human
  • Interleukin-1