Interleukin-22 (IL-22) as a plausible treatment for metabolic syndrome


Two complementary articles recently published in the journals, Nature and Nature medicine, describe the use of interleukin-22 (IL-22) in treating metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a condition characterized by abdominal obesity, elevated fasting sugar levels, high serum triglycerides and other symptoms which increases the overall risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases in an individual. Diabetes is associated with endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and oxidative stress, glucotoxicity, lipotoxicity etc due to defective functioning of islet beta cells of the pancreas and may trigger an inflammatory response. Thus, anti-inflammatory drugs are currently being developed to treat diabetes. In this light, the studies by Wang et al and Hasnain et al is very promising.

Figure: Obesity and metabolic syndrome go hand-in-hand. Credit:
Figure: Obesity and metabolic syndrome go hand-in-hand. Credit:

Wang et al showed that IL-22 improved insulin sensitivity and lipid metabolism in mouse models of diabetes; while Hasnain et al, showed that IL-22 protects the insulin-producing beta cells from oxidative and ER stress. They also helped maintain the blood glucose levels in obese mice. Both the studies showed that, when IL-22 was injected into the intra peritoneal cavity, it restored the ability of islet cells to produce insulin in obese mice. Further studies on its role in metabolism and immunity are warranted before this exciting discovery can be used for treatment in humans.


The original articles can be read at:

Disclaimer: This article does not reflect any personal views of the authors/editors