Background: IL-25 and IL-33 belong to distinct cytokine families, but experimental mouse studies suggest their immunologic functions in type 2 immunity are almost entirely overlapping. However, only polymorphisms in the IL-33 pathway (IL1RL1 and IL33) have been significantly associated with asthma in large-cohort genome-wide association studies. Objective: We sought to identify distinct pathways for IL-25 and IL-33 in the lung that might provide insight into their roles in asthma pathogenesis and potential for therapeutic intervention. Methods: IL-25 receptor-deficient (Il17rb-/-), IL-33 receptor-deficient (ST2, Il1rl1-/-), and double-deficient (Il17rb-/-Il1rl1-/-) mice were analyzed in models of allergic asthma. Microarrays, an ex vivo lung slice airway contraction model, and Il13+/eGFP mice were then used to identify specific effects of IL-25 and IL-33 administration. Results: Comparison of IL-25 and IL-33 pathway-deficient mice demonstrates that IL-33 signaling plays a more important in vivo role in airways hyperreactivity than IL-25. Furthermore, methacholine-induced airway contraction ex vivo increases after treatment with IL-33 but not IL-25. This is dependent on expression of the IL-33 receptor and type 2 cytokines. Confocal studies with Il13+/eGFP mice show that IL-33 more potently induces expansion of IL-13-producing type 2 innate lymphoid cells, correlating with airway contraction. This predominance of IL-33 activity is enforced in vivo because IL-33 is more rapidly expressed and released in comparison with IL-25. Conclusion: Our data demonstrate that IL-33 plays a critical role in the rapid induction of airway contraction by stimulating the prompt expansion of IL-13-producing type 2 innate lymphoid cells, whereas IL-25-induced responses are slower and less potent.
- type 2 innate lymphoid cells