IL-31 is a novel cytokine expressed in many human tissues and involved mainly in TH2-weighted inflammation. IL-31 signals through a receptor complex consisting of IL-31 receptor α and oncostatin M receptor β. The available data show that IL-31 is strongly linked with chronic pruritic skin disorders, such as atopic eczema, and represents a novel target for directed drug therapy. Regulation of immune responses and cellular differentiation and proliferation are recently elucidated effects of IL-31, suggesting a more complex and diverse area of effect for this novel cytokine. This review summarizes the current knowledge on IL-31 and its receptors and the involvement of IL-31 in diseases both in human subjects and mouse models.
Keywords: IL-31; atopic eczema; cytokines; interleukins; pruritus; receptors.
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