Pathophysiologic role of Interleukin-33/ST2 in Sjögren’s syndrome

Muhammad Shahnawaz Soyfoo, Charles Nicaise

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Interleukin-33 (IL-33) is a member of the IL-1 family and has dual functions as a nuclear factor as well as a cytokine. The pivotal role of IL-33 as an active player contributing to aberrant local and systemic damage has been highlighted in several inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS) is an autoimmune disease characterized by dry eyes and mouth syndrome due to local dysfunctions of exocrine glands, but also accompanied with systemic manifestations. The pathophysiology of pSS has been advocated as a conjecture of activated B and T cells as well as the production of inflammatory cytokines and autoantibodies, driving epithelial tissue damage and disease progression. In pSS, IL-33 is released in the extracellular space from damaged salivary cells upon pro-inflammatory stimuli and/or dysfunction of epithelial barrier. Counter-regulatory mechanisms are initiated to limit the pro-inflammatory actions of IL-33 as portrayed by an increase in the decoy receptor for IL-33, the soluble form of ST2 (sST2). In pSS and associated diseases, the levels of IL-33 are significantly elevated in the serum or tears of patients. Mechanistically, IL-33 acts in synergy with IL-12 and IL-23 on NK and NKT cells to boost the production of IFN-γ contributing to inflammation. TNF-α, IL-1β and IFN-γ in turn further increase the activation of IL-33/ST2 pathway, thereby constituting a vicious inflammatory loop leading to disease exacerbation. IL-33/ST2 axis is involved in Sjögren's syndrome and opens new perspectives as therapeutic target of one of the culprits in the inflammatory perpetuation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102756
JournalAutoimmunity Reviews
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • IL-33
  • alarmins
  • auto-immune disease
  • Innate immunity
  • inflammation
  • Sjogren's Syndrome
  • Alarmins
  • Sjogren's syndrome
  • Auto-immune disease
  • Inflammation


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