Characteristics and Functions of IL-37

Fang Yang, Li Gao, Xinya Wu, Xuan Su, Weijie Ma, Lei Zhong, Aihua Liu, Fukai Bao

For citation: Yang F, Gao L, Wu X, Su X, Ma W, Zhong L, Liu A, Bao F. Characteristics and Functions of IL-37. International Journal of Biomedicine. 2024;14(2):209-216. doi:10.21103/Article14(2)_RA1
Originally published June 5, 2024


Interleukin-37 (IL-37), previously known as IL-1F7, is a member of the IL-1 family of cytokines. There are five basic subtypes of IL-37, including IL-37a, IL-37b, IL-37c, IL-37d, and IL-37e. Like other members of the IL-1 family, IL-37 is initially expressed as an immature precursor protein that needs to be processed enzymatically by caspase-1 to generate the bioactive protein. However, unlike most other members of the IL-1 family, IL-37 induces anti-inflammatory activities in IL-37 receptor-positive target cells. IL-37 functions as an extracellular protein by binding to the IL-18 receptor, IL-18R, and an intracellular protein via its interaction with SMAD family member-3 (SMAD-3). This article reviews recent findings regarding the IL-37 protein maturation process and the biological functions mediated by this cytokine.

Graphical Abstract

IL-37 • IL-37 precursor • anti-inflammatory cytokine • IL-18 • Smad3 • IL-1R8 • IL-37 isoforms
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Received February 24, 2024.
Accepted April 2, 2024.
©2024 International Medical Research and Development Corporation.