Interleukin 18 in the heart

Meijing Wang, Troy A. Markel, Daniel R. Meldrum

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

35 Scopus citations


IL-18, originally termed as interferon γ (IFN-γ) inducing factor, is a proinflammatory cytokine that belongs to the IL-1 cytokine superfamily. IL-18 plays an important role in immune, infectious, and inflammatory diseases due to its induction of IFN-γ. However, accumulated evidence has demonstrated that other effects of IL-18 are independent of IFN-γ Here, we reviewed the current literatures regarding the role of IL-18 in the heart and cardiovascular system. Infiltrated neutrophils, resident macrophages, endothelial cells, smooth muscle cells, and cardiomyocytes in the heart are able to produce IL-18 in response to injury. IL-18 is produced as a biologically inactive precursor (pro-IL-18) that is activated by caspase 1 (the IL-1β converting enzyme). Elevated IL-18 levels have been observed in cardiac tissue and circulation after myocardial I/R and sepsis. The possible cellular and molecular mechanisms concerning IL-18-induced myocardial injury include induction of inflammation, increased apoptosis, a cardiac hypertrophy effect, modulation of mitogen activated protein kinase activation, and changes in intracellular calcium. Finally, we briefly reviewed the therapeutic strategies for inhibiting IL-18's biological activity to protect cardiac tissue from injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-10
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2008


  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation
  • Ischemia
  • Myocardium
  • Sepsis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Physiology

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