The role of IL-33 and its receptor ST2 in human nasal epithelium with allergic rhinitis


Correspondence: Takashi Kojima, Department of Pathology, Sapporo Medical University School of Medicine, S1. W17 Sapporo 060-8556, Japan.




Interleukin (IL)-33 is a novel member of the IL-1 cytokine family and a ligand for the orphan IL-1 family receptor ST2. The IL-33 induces T helper 2-type inflammatory responses and is considered to play a crucial rule in allergic inflammations, such as asthma and atopic dermatitis. However, the role of IL-33 and its receptor ST2 in allergic rhinitis remains unknown.


We investigated expression of IL-33 and ST2 in the nasal epithelium of patients with allergic rhinitis and the mechanisms of the production of cytokines/chemokines induced by treatment with IL-33 using normal human nasal epithelial cells (HNECs) in vitro.


Expression of IL-33 and ST2 in normal and allergic rhinitis nasal mucosa was evaluated by reverse transcription- and real-time polymerase chain reactions and immunohistochemical methods. The IL-33 in serum, and IL-8 and GM-CSF were measured by ELISA. For in vitro experiments, HNECs in primary culture were used.


The IL-33 levels in the sera of patients with allergic rhinitis were significantly higher than that in normal controls. Expression of IL-33 and ST2 was significantly elevated in the epithelium from patients with allergic rhinitis. The IL-33 mRNA in HNECsin vitro was significantly induced by treatment with IFN-γ and the toll-like receptor 9 ligand ODN2006. The IL-33-induced production of IL-8 and GM-CSF from HNECsin vitro was significantly suppressed by corticosteroid treatment and distinct signal transduction inhibitors of ERK, p38 MAPK, JNK, NF-κB and epidermal growth factor receptor.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance

The IL-33 and its receptor ST2 play important roles in allergic rhinitis. The IL-33-mediated inflammatory responses via ST2 are regulated by distinct signalling pathways in HNECs and the IL-33/ST2 pathway may provide new therapeutic targets for allergic rhinitis.