Functions of IL-4 and control of its expression

Melissa A. Brown*, John Hural

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

285 Scopus citations


IL-4 has been called the 'prototypic immunoregulatory cytokine.' Like many cytokines, it can affect a variety of target cells in multiple ways. IL- 4 has an important role in regulating antibody production, hematopoiesis and inflammation, and the development of effector T-cell responses. It is produced only by a subset of activated hematopoietic cells, including T cells and FcεRI+ mast cells and basophils. Based on the different tissue distribution and access to distinct target cells, IL-4 derived from T and FcεRI+ cells may have quite different effects on these immunological processes. In view of this, as well as the clear correlation of aberrant expression with disease, it is of interest to understand the signals that regulate IL-4 expression in a cell-specific manner. Recently, progress has been made in defining the T-cell- and FcεRI-receptor-mediated signals that stimulate IL-4 gene expression. These studies have demonstrated that there are common and cell-specific signaling pathways that regulate production of this cytokine. In this review, we summarize the activities of IL-4 defined both in vitro and in vivo and compare the signals leading to IL-4 expression in cells of both T- and mast-cell lineage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-32
Number of pages32
JournalCritical reviews in immunology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997


  • IL-4
  • NF-AT
  • T cells
  • TCR- and FceRI-mediated signaling mechanisms
  • basophils
  • mast cells
  • transcriptional regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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