Immunobiological Properties and Clinical Applications of Interleukin-38 for Immune-Mediated Disorders: A Systematic Review Study

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Nov 21;22(22):12552. doi: 10.3390/ijms222212552.


Exponential growth in the usage of "cytokines" (as seroimmunobiomarkers) has facilitated more accurate prognosis, early diagnosis, novel, and efficient immunotherapeutics. Numerous studies have reported immunopathophysiological and immunopathological processes of interleukin-38 (IL-38). Therefore, in this systematic review article, the authors aimed to present an updated comprehensive overview on the immunobiological mechanisms, diagnostic, and immune gene-based therapeutic potentials of IL-38. According to our inclusion and exclusion criteria, a total of 216 articles were collected from several search engines and databases from the January 2012 to July 2021 time interval by using six main keywords. Physiologic or pathologic microenvironments, optimal dosage, and involved receptors affect the functionalities of IL-38. Alterations in serum levels of IL-38 play a major role in the immunopathogenesis of a wide array of immune-mediated disorders. IL-38 shows anti-inflammatory activities by reduction or inhibition of pro-inflammatory cytokines, supporting the therapeutic aspects of IL-38 in inflammatory autoimmune diseases. According to the importance of pre-clinical studies, it seems that manipulation of the immune system by immunomodulatory properties of IL-38 can increase the accuracy of diagnosis, and decipher optimal clinical outcomes. To promote our knowledge, more collaboration is highly recommended among laboratory scientists, internal/infectious diseases specialists, oncologists, immunologists, diseases-specific biomarkers scientists, and basic medical researchers.

Keywords: biomarker; clinical applications; diagnosis; immunobiology; immunopathophysiology; interleukin-38.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Autoimmune Diseases / genetics*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / pathology
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immune System Diseases / genetics*
  • Immune System Diseases / immunology
  • Immune System Diseases / pathology
  • Interleukins / genetics*
  • Interleukins / immunology


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Cytokines
  • IL-38 protein, human
  • Interleukins