Regulation of inflammation by interleukin-4: A review of "alternatives"

Irina G. Luzina, Achsah D. Keegan, Nicola M. Heller, Graham A.W. Rook, Terez Shea-Donohue, Sergei P. Atamas

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

159 Scopus citations


Studies of IL-4 have revealed a wealth of information on the diverse roles of this cytokine in homeostatic regulation and disease pathogenesis. Recent data suggest that instead of simple linear regulatory pathways, IL-4 drives regulation that is full of alternatives. In addition to the well-known dichotomous regulation of Th cell differentiation by IL-4, this cytokine is engaged in several other alternative pathways. Its own production involves alternative mRNA splicing, yielding at least two functional isoforms: Full-length IL-4, encoded by the IL-4 gene exons 1-4, and IL-4δ2 encoded by exons 1, 3, and 4. The functional effects of these two isoforms are in some ways similar but in other ways quite distinct. When binding to the surface of target cells, IL-4 may differentially engage two different types of receptors. By acting on macrophages, a cell type critically involved in inflammation, IL-4 induces the so-called alternative macrophage activation. In this review, recent advances in understanding these three IL-4-related branch points-alternative splicing of IL-4, differential receptor engagement by IL-4, and differential regulation of macrophage activation by IL-4-are summarized in light of their contributions to inflammation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)753-764
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Leukocyte Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2012


  • Alternative macrophage activation
  • Alternative splicing
  • Interelukin-4 receptor
  • Interleukin-4 signaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology


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