Gut 61:1765-1773 doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2012-303461
  • Recent advances in clinical practice

Interleukin 13 and its role in gut defence and inflammation

Editor's Choice
  1. Walter Reinisch2
  1. 1Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA
  2. 2Department of Medicine IV, Division Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
  1. Correspondence to Dr P Mannon, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1825 University Blvd., SHEL613, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA; pmannon{at}


Interleukin 13 (IL-13) is a cytokine of increasing interest to gastroenterologists because of its developing role in ulcerative colitis, eosinophilic oesophagitis (EO) and fibrosis. Recent data show that IL-13 may play an important role in a novel innate immune response since it can be released by signals from an injured or inflamed epithelium, of particular relevance to the gut. Animal models of IL-13-driven inflammation (from asthma to colitis and EO) are being translated to human disease and providing insight into potential strategies for new therapies. In fact, multiple clinical trials using anti-IL-13 drugs are underway in asthma and are being extended to gastrointestinal diseases. This review presents the current knowledge on IL-13 production and function in the gut, including the cells and receptor signalling pathways involved in mediating IL-13 effects, the proposed mechanisms of IL-13 induced gut disease and the many drugs currently being tested that target IL-13 related pathways.