Interleukin 9, also known as IL-9, is a cytokine (cell signalling molecule) belonging to the group of interleukins. IL-9 is a cytokine that acts as a regulator of a variety of hematopoietic cells. This cytokine stimulates cell proliferation and prevents apoptosis. It functions through the interleukin 9 receptor (IL-9R), which activates different signal transducer and activator (STAT) proteins and thus connects this cytokine to various biological processes. Genetic studies on a mouse model of asthma demonstrated that this cytokine is a determining factor in the pathogenesis of bronchial hyperresponsiveness. IL-9 is a key molecule that affects differentiation of TH17 cells and Treg function. IL-9 predominantly produced by TH17 cells, synergizes with TGF-β1 to differentiate naïve CD4+ T cells into TH17 cells, while IL-9 secretion by TH17 cells is regulated by IL-23. Interestingly, IL-9 enhances the suppressive functions of FoxP3+ CD4+ Treg cells in vitro, and absence of IL-9 signaling weakens the suppressive activity of nTregs in vivo, leading to an increase in effector cells and worsening of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. The mechanism of IL-9 effects on TH17 and Tregs is through activation of STAT3 and STAT5 signaling. Our findings highlight a role of IL-9 as a regulator of pathogenic versus protective mechanisms of immune responses.
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