IgG4-related disease (IgG4-RD) is characterized by elevated serum IgG4 and marked infiltration of IgG4-positive cells in multiple organs. Interleukin-33 (IL-33) is a recently described cytokine that is secreted by damaged epithelial cells, macrophages, and dendritic cells, and potently activates helper T type 2 (Th2) immune responses, which have been suggested to play a major role in IgG4 production of IgG4-RD. Here, we assessed the expression of IL-33 and related molecules in the salivary glands (SGs) of patients with IgG4-RD versus that in patients with Sjögren's syndrome (SS) and controls. Expression of IL-33 and its receptor (ST2) was strongly detected around ectopic germinal centers (GCs) in the SGs from patients with IgG4-RD, whereas IL-33 was expressed only in epithelial cells in patients with SS and controls. Moreover, IL-33 and CD68+/CD163+macrophages were mainly distributed around ectopic GCs in patients with IgG4-RD. Double immunofluorescence staining showed that IL-33 expression co-localized with CD68+/CD163+macrophages. Finally, mRNA expression levels of IL-33 showed a positive correlation to those of Th2 cytokines (IL-4 and IL-13) in patients with IgG4-RD. Our data suggest that IL-33 produced by M2 macrophages might contribute to the pathogenesis of IgG4-RD via aberrant activation of Th2 immune responses.
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