The Role of the Anti-Inflammatory Cytokine Interleukin-10 in Tissue Fibrosis

Adv Wound Care (New Rochelle). 2020 Apr 1;9(4):184-198. doi: 10.1089/wound.2019.1032. Epub 2020 Feb 7.


Significance: Fibrosis is the endpoint of chronic disease in multiple organs, including the skin, heart, lungs, intestine, liver, and kidneys. Pathologic accumulation of fibrotic tissue results in a loss of structural integrity and function, with resultant increases in morbidity and mortality. Understanding the pathways governing fibrosis and identifying therapeutic targets within those pathways is necessary to develop novel antifibrotic therapies for fibrotic disease. Recent Advances: Given the connection between inflammation and fibrogenesis, Interleukin-10 (IL-10) has been a focus of potential antifibrotic therapies because of its well-known role as an anti-inflammatory mediator. Despite the apparent dissimilarity of diseases associated with fibrotic progression, pathways involving IL-10 appear to be a conserved molecular theme. More recently, many groups have worked to develop novel delivery tools for recombinant IL-10, such as hydrogels, and cell-based therapies, such as ex vivo activated macrophages, to directly or indirectly modulate IL-10 signaling. Critical Issues: Some efforts in this area, however, have been stymied by IL-10's pleiotropic and sometimes conflicting effects. A deeper, contextual understanding of IL-10 signaling and its interaction with effector cells, particularly immune cells, will be critical to future studies in the field. Future Directions: IL-10 is clearly a gatekeeper of fibrotic/antifibrotic signaling. The development of novel therapeutics and cell-based therapies that capitalize on targets within the IL-10 signaling pathway could have far-reaching implications for patients suffering from the consequences of organ fibrosis.

Keywords: cell biology; extracellular matrix; fibrosis; hyaluronan; interleukin-10.

Publication types

  • Portrait
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Fibrosis / metabolism
  • Fibrosis / therapy
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Interleukin-10 / metabolism*
  • Intestines / pathology*
  • Kidney / pathology*
  • Mice
  • Myocardium / pathology*
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / metabolism*
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / therapy
  • Signal Transduction
  • Skin / pathology*


  • IL10 protein, human
  • Interleukin-10