Interleukin-35 regulates the balance of Th17 and Treg responses during the pathogenesis of connective tissue diseases

Int J Rheum Dis. 2021 Jan;24(1):21-27. doi: 10.1111/1756-185X.13962. Epub 2020 Sep 11.


Interleukin (IL)-35 belongs to the IL-12 cytokine family and is a heterodimer of the p35 and Epstein-Barr virus-induced gene 3 (EBI3) subunits. Functionally, IL-35 can promote the proliferation and activation of regulatory T cells (Tregs) and suppress the function of T helper 17 (Th17) cells and other inflammatory cells to inhibit immune responses. In recent years, an abnormal IL-35 expression causing a Th17/Treg imbalance has been associated with the development and progression of several connective tissue diseases (CTDs), such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), systemic sclerosis (SSc), dermatomyositis (DM)/polymyositis (PM), and primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS). Here, we review the role of IL-35 in regulating the balance of Th17/Treg responses in different types of CTDs and provide new insights into the role of IL-35 in these diseases.

Keywords: dermatomyositis; interleukin-35; polymyositis; rheumatoid arthritis; systemic lupus erythematosus; systemic sclerosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Connective Tissue Diseases / immunology
  • Connective Tissue Diseases / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-12 Subunit p35 / metabolism*
  • Phenotype
  • Signal Transduction
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / metabolism*
  • Th17 Cells / immunology
  • Th17 Cells / metabolism*


  • Interleukin-12 Subunit p35