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Interleukin-13 (IL-13)

Interleukin-13 (IL-13) is a cytokine, a type of signaling molecule that plays a crucial role in the immune system. It is part of the interleukin family and is produced by various immune cells, particularly T helper type 2 (Th2) cells. IL-13 is involved in a range of biological processes and has both pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory effects.

IL-13 is primarily produced by activated CD4+ T cells, especially Th2 cells. Other cell types, including mast cells, basophils, eosinophils, and natural killer (NK) cells, can also produce IL-13.

IL-13 exerts its effects by binding to its receptors, which include IL-13Rα1 and IL-13Rα2. These receptors are expressed in various cell types, such as immune cells, epithelial cells, and certain structural cells.

Pro-Inflammatory Effects: IL-13 is involved in promoting inflammation and immune responses. It contributes to the activation of immune cells, such as macrophages and eosinophils.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects: IL-13 is also associated with anti-inflammatory actions. It can suppress the activity of immune cells, particularly those involved in allergic reactions and inflammation.

Interleukin-13 (IL-13) has diverse functions in the immune system and plays a significant role in various physiological and pathological processes. Its clinical significance is particularly notable in the context of allergic diseases, inflammation, and certain chronic conditions.

  • Asthma: IL-13 is strongly associated with asthma, a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways. It contributes to airway hyperresponsiveness, mucus production, and the recruitment of inflammatory cells, such as eosinophils. Targeting IL-13 has been explored as a therapeutic approach for asthma.
  • Atopic Dermatitis: IL-13 is implicated in the pathogenesis of atopic dermatitis, a common inflammatory skin condition. It contributes to skin barrier dysfunction, inflammation, and the development of characteristic skin lesions. Due to its involvement in allergic and inflammatory diseases, IL-13 has been considered a therapeutic target. Monoclonal antibodies that block IL-13 or its receptors are being developed and tested for conditions such as asthma and atopic dermatitis.
  • Inflammatory Responses: IL-13 is involved in promoting inflammatory responses. It activates immune cells, such as macrophages and eosinophils, which play roles in various inflammatory conditions.
  • Tissue Repair and Fibrosis: IL-13 has profibrotic effects and is associated with tissue repair and fibrosis. In chronic inflammatory conditions, prolonged IL-13 activity can contribute to the remodeling of tissues, leading to fibrosis in organs such as the lungs and liver.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Despite its pro-inflammatory functions, IL-13 also has anti-inflammatory effects. It can suppress the activity of certain immune cells and modulate the immune response, contributing to the resolution of inflammation in some contexts.
  • Cancer: IL-13 receptors are expressed on certain cancer cells, and IL-13 has been investigated as a potential agent for targeted cancer therapy. For example, IL-13 has been used in experimental treatments that involve genetically modified immune cells to target and destroy cancer cells expressing IL-13 receptors.
  • Neurological Disorders: Emerging research suggests that IL-13 may play a role in certain neurological disorders. For example, studies have explored the potential involvement of IL-13 in neuroinflammation and neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Infection Response: IL-13 can influence the immune response during infections. It may contribute to the host's defense against certain pathogens, but its dysregulation can also be associated with immunopathology.


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