Int J Biol Sci 2020; 16(13):2405-2413. doi:10.7150/ijbs.38925


Interleukin 22 in Liver Injury, Inflammation and Cancer

Ye Wu1, Jie Min2, Chang Ge3, Jinping Shu1, Di Tian1, Yuan Yuan1, Dian Zhou1✉

1. The First Affiliated Hospital of Anhui Medical University, Hefei, Anhui, 230022, China.
2. The Second Hospital of Anhui Medical University, Hefei, Anhui, 230601, China.
3. The First Affiliated Hospital of University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, Anhui, 230022, China.

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Wu Y, Min J, Ge C, Shu J, Tian D, Yuan Y, Zhou D. Interleukin 22 in Liver Injury, Inflammation and Cancer. Int J Biol Sci 2020; 16(13):2405-2413. doi:10.7150/ijbs.38925. Available from

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Interleukin 22(IL-22), a member of the IL-10 cytokine family and is an emerging CD4+Th cytokine that plays an important role in anti-microbial defense, homeostasis and tissue repair. We are interested in IL-22 as it has the double function of suppressing or encouraging inflammation in various disease models including hepatic inflammation. As a survival factor for hepatocytes, IL-22 plays a protective role in many kinds of liver diseases, such as hepatitis, liver fibrosis, or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) by binding to the receptors IL-22R1 and IL-10R2. Overexpression of IL-22 reduces liver fibrosis by attenuating the activation of hepatic stellate cell (the main cell types involved in hepatic fibrosis), and down-regulating the levels of inflammatory cytokines. Administration of exogenous IL-22 increases the replication of hepatocytes by inhibiting cell apoptosis and promoting mitosis, ultimately plays a contributing role in liver regeneration. Furthermore, treatment with IL-22 activates hepatic signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3), ameliorates hepatic oxidative stress and alcoholic fatty liver, effectively alleviate the liver damage caused by alcohol and toxicant. In conclusion, the hepatoprotective functions and liver regeneration promoting effect of IL-22 suggests the therapeutic potential of IL-22 in the treatment of human hepatic diseases.

Keywords: IL-22, Liver injury, Inflammation, HCC, Liver regeneration.