Emerging Effects of IL-33 on COVID-19

Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Nov 7;23(21):13656. doi: 10.3390/ijms232113656.


Since the start of COVID-19 pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), more than 6 million people have lost their lives worldwide directly or indirectly. Despite intensified efforts to clarify the immunopathology of COVID-19, the key factors and processes that trigger an inflammatory storm and lead to severe clinical outcomes in patients remain unclear. As an inflammatory storm factor, IL-33 is an alarmin cytokine, which plays an important role in cell damage or infection. Recent studies have shown that serum IL-33 is upregulated in COVID-19 patients and is strongly associated with poor outcomes. Increased IL-33 levels in severe infections may result from an inflammatory storm caused by strong interactions between activated immune cells. However, the effects of IL-33 in COVID-19 and the underlying mechanisms remain to be fully elucidated. In this review, we systematically discuss the biological properties of IL-33 under pathophysiological conditions and its regulation of immune cells, including neutrophils, innate lymphocytes (ILCs), dendritic cells, macrophages, CD4+ T cells, Th17/Treg cells, and CD8+ T cells, in COVID-19 phagocytosis. The aim of this review is to explore the potential value of the IL-33/immune cell pathway as a new target for early diagnosis, monitoring of severe cases, and clinical treatment of COVID-19.

Keywords: CD4+ T cells; CD8+ T cells; COVID-19; IL-33; Th17/Treg cells; dendritic cells; innate lymphocytes; macrophages; neutrophils.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes
  • COVID-19*
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-33
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2


  • Interleukin-33
  • Cytokines