Clinical implications of the novel cytokine IL-38 expressed in lung adenocarcinoma: Possible association with PD-L1 expression

Kazuki Takada, Tatsuro Okamoto, Masaki Tominaga, Koji Teraishi, Takaki Akamine, Shinkichi Takamori, Masakazu Katsura, Gouji Toyokawa, Fumihiro Shoji, Masaki Okamoto, Yoshinao Oda, Tomoaki Hoshino, Yoshihiko Maehara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Interleukin (IL)-38, a novel member of the IL-1 cytokine family, is homologous to IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) and IL-36Ra, and has been reported to act as an antagonist. IL-38 expression is found in tonsil, placenta, and spleen, and recent studies suggest an association between IL-38 and autoimmune diseases. However, whether IL-38 plays a role in carcinogenesis or cancer growth is unclear. In the present study, we identified increases in IL-38 expression by immunohistochemistry in multiple types of cancer cells. In the examination of 417 surgically resected primary lung adenocarcinomas, Fisher’s exact tests showed significant associations between high IL-38 expression and high tumor grades, an advanced T status, advanced N status, advanced stage, and the presence of pleural and vessel invasions. Survival analyses by the Kaplan-Meier method showed that patients with high expression of IL-38 had significantly shorter disease-free survival and shorter overall survival after surgery than patients with low expression of IL-38 (log-rank test: P = 0.0021 and P = 0.0035, respectively). Moreover, programmed cell death-ligand 1 (PD-L1)-positive cases showed higher expression of IL-38 than PD-L1-negative cases (Wilcoxon rank-sum test: P < 0.0001). In conclusion, IL-38 was expressed in tumor cells of various cancers, and IL-38 expression was associated with poor survival of lung adenocarcinoma patients. IL-38 may affect host immunity or the tumor microenvironment, and contribute to the progression of lung adenocarcinoma.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0181598
JournalPloS one
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Clinical implications of the novel cytokine IL-38 expressed in lung adenocarcinoma: Possible association with PD-L1 expression'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this