14 April 2021

Charles Dinarello and Mihai Netea, theme Infectious diseases and global health and colleagues published in Cell reports that the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-37 is an inhibitor of trained immunity.

Trained immunity (TI) is a de facto innate immune memory program induced in monocytes/macrophages by exposure to pathogens or vaccines, which evolved as protection against infections. 

TI is characterized by immunometabolic changes and histone post-translational modifications, which enhance production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. As aberrant activation of TI is implicated in inflammatory diseases, tight regulation is critical; however, the mechanisms responsible for this modulation remain elusive. Interleukin-37 (IL-37) is an anti-inflammatory cytokine that curbs inflammation and modulates metabolic pathways. 

In this study, the authors show that administration of recombinant IL-37 abrogates the protective effects of TI in vivo, as revealed by reduced host pro-inflammatory responses and survival to disseminated candidiasis. Mechanistically, IL-37 reverses the immunometabolic changes and histone post-translational modifications characteristic of TI in monocytes, thus suppressing cytokine production in response to infection. IL-37 thereby emerges as an inhibitor of TI and as a potential therapeutic target in immune-mediated pathologies.

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