IL-18 is a cytokine that belongs to the IL-1 superfamily and is produced by macrophages and other cells. IL-18 works by binding to the interleukin-18 receptor, and together with IL-12 it induces cell-mediated immunity following infection with microbial products like lipopolysaccharide (LPS). After stimulation with IL-18, natural killer (NK) cells and certain T cells release another important cytokine called interferon-γ (IFN-γ) or type II interferon that plays an important role in activating the macrophages or other cells.
The combination of this cytokine and IL12 has been shown to inhibit IL-4 dependent IgE and IgG1 production, and enhance IgG2a production in B cells. IL-18 binding protein (IL18BP) can specifically interact with this cytokine, and thus negatively regulate its biological activity.
Apart from its physiological role, IL-18 is also able to induce severe inflammatory reactions, which suggests its role in certain inflammatory disorders.
Endometrial IL-18 receptor mRNA and the ratio of IL-18 binding protein to interleukin 18 are significantly increased in adenomyosis patients in comparison to normal people, indicating a role in its pathogenesis.
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