IL-37 Causes Excessive Inflammation and Tissue Damage in Murine Pneumococcal Pneumonia

Anja E. Schauer, Tilman E. Klassert, Carolin von Lachner, Diana Riebold, Anne Schneeweiss, Magdalena Stock, Mario M. Muller, Sven Hammerschmidt, Philip Bufler, Ulrike Seifert, Kristina Dietert, Charles A. Dinarello, Marcel F. Nold, Achim D. Gruber, Claudia A. Nold-Petry, Hortense Slevogt

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Streptococcus pneumoniae infections can lead to severe complications with excessive immune activation and tissue damage. Interleukin-37 (IL-37) has gained importance as a suppressor of innate and acquired immunity, and its effects have been therapeutic as they prevent tissue damage in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. By using RAW macrophages, stably transfected with human IL-37, we showed a 70% decrease in the cytokine levels of IL-6, TNF-α, and IL-1β, and a 2.2-fold reduction of the intracellular killing capacity of internalized pneumococci in response to pneumococcal infection. In a murine model of infection with S. pneumoniae, using mice transgenic for human IL-37b (IL-37tg), we observed an initial decrease in cytokine expression of IL-6, TNF-α, and IL-1β in the lungs, followed by a late-phase enhancement of pneumococcal burden and subsequent increase of proinflammatory cytokine levels. Additionally, a marked increase in recruitment of alveolar macrophages and neutrophils was noted, while TRAIL mRNA was reduced 3-fold in lungs of IL-37tg mice, resulting in necrotizing pneumonia with augmented death of infiltrating neutrophils, enhanced bacteremic spread, and increased mortality. In conclusion, we have identified that IL-37 modulates several core components of a successful inflammatory response to pneumococcal pneumonia, which lead to increased inflammation, tissue damage, and mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-418
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Innate Immunity
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017


  • Antibacterial host defense
  • Immunosuppression
  • Inflammation
  • Interleukin-37
  • Pneumococcal pneumonia
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae

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