IL-33 promotes innate lymphoid cell-dependent IFN-γ production required for innate immunity to Toxoplasma gondii

Elife. 2021 Apr 30:10:e65614. doi: 10.7554/eLife.65614.


IL-33 is an alarmin required for resistance to the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, but its role in innate resistance to this organism is unclear. Infection with T. gondii promotes increased stromal cell expression of IL-33, and levels of parasite replication correlate with release of IL-33 in affected tissues. In response to infection, a subset of innate lymphoid cells (ILC) emerges composed of IL-33R+ NK cells and ILC1s. In Rag1-/-mice, where NK cells and ILC1 production of IFN-γ mediate innate resistance to T. gondii, the loss of the IL-33R resulted in reduced ILC responses and increased parasite replication. Furthermore, administration of IL-33 to Rag1-/- mice resulted in a marked decrease in parasite burden, increased production of IFN-γ, and the recruitment and expansion of inflammatory monocytes associated with parasite control. These protective effects of exogenous IL-33 were dependent on endogenous IL-12p40 and the ability of IL-33 to enhance ILC production of IFN-γ. These results highlight that IL-33 synergizes with IL-12 to promote ILC-mediated resistance to T. gondii.

Keywords: IL-1 family; IL-33; Toxoplasma gondii; immunology; infectious disease; inflammation; innate lymphoid cells; microbiology; mouse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Interferon-gamma / genetics
  • Interferon-gamma / immunology*
  • Interleukin-33 / genetics
  • Interleukin-33 / immunology*
  • Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Toxoplasma / genetics
  • Toxoplasma / immunology*
  • Toxoplasmosis / genetics
  • Toxoplasmosis / immunology*
  • Toxoplasmosis / parasitology


  • Interleukin-33
  • Interferon-gamma