Interleukin-10: biology, role in inflammation and autoimmunity

Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 1997 Dec;79(6):469-83. doi: 10.1016/S1081-1206(10)63052-9.


Learning objectives: Reading this article will increase the readers' knowledge of the biology of interleukin-10 (IL-10) an important cytokine. The survival of an organism and its host defense mechanisms require, among other processes, a complex but target-oriented interaction and an interdependence between the immune and inflammatory pathways. The biologic role of interleukin-10 in these processes is presented as well as the possible involvement of IL-10 in the pathogenesis of various diseases. The influence of pharmacologic agents on IL-10 production and the possible pharmacologic role of IL-10 itself are discussed.

Data sources: A detailed literature search was conducted. Studies considered relevant and important involving both humans and animals, in all languages were used.

Study selection: Material was taken only from peer reviewed journals.

Results: IL-10 is produced by CD4+, Tho, Th1, B lymphocytes, mast cells, eosinophils, monocytes, macrophages and keratinocytes. IL-10 has a diverse array of actions, which differ depending on cell type, nature of stimulus and the cellular microenvironment. Interleukin-10 has an important role in the inflammatory and immune systems. In addition, present studies suggest that IL-10 may well play a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of several diseases. It has the potential for therapeutic use. Most of the data on IL-10 have been obtained from in vitro studies or animal experiments. Studies on humans are few, but rapidly increasing.

Conclusions: Interleukin-10 is an important molecule with a central role in maintaining health and in the pathogenesis of disease. Known pharmacologic agents and some under investigation can modify IL-10 production in vivo. Development of agents that can selectively affect a very specific biologic action of IL-10 may provide significant benefit in treating autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiology
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Interleukin-10 / genetics
  • Interleukin-10 / physiology*


  • Interleukin-10