IL-22 Plays a Dual Role in the Amniotic Cavity: Tissue Injury and Host Defense against Microbes in Preterm Labor

Meyer Gershater, Roberto Romero, Marcia Arenas-Hernandez, Jose Galaz, Kenichiro Motomura, Li Tao, Yi Xu, Derek Miller, Roger Pique-Regi, Gregorio Martinez, Yesong Liu, Eunjung Jung, Robert Para, Nardhy Gomez-Lopez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


IL-22 is a multifaceted cytokine with both pro- and anti-inflammatory functions that is implicated in multiple pathologies. However, the role of IL-22 in maternal-fetal immunity in late gestation is poorly understood. In this study, we first showed that IL-22+ T cells coexpressing retinoic acid-related orphan receptor gt (ROR-gt) are enriched at the human maternal-fetal interface of women with preterm labor and birth, which was confirmed by in silico analysis of single-cell RNA sequencing data. T cell activation leading to preterm birth in mice was preceded by a surge in IL-22 in the maternal circulation and amniotic cavity; however, systemic administration of IL-22 in mice did not induce adverse perinatal outcomes. Next, using an ex vivo human system, we showed that IL-22 can cross from the choriodecidua to the intra-amniotic space, where its receptors (Il22ra1, Il10rb, and Il22ra2) are highly expressed by murine gestational and fetal tissues in late pregnancy. Importantly, amniotic fluid concentrations of IL-22 were elevated in women with sterile or microbial intra-amniotic inflammation, suggesting a dual role for this cytokine. The intra-amniotic administration of IL-22 alone shortened gestation and caused neonatal death in mice, with the latter outcome involving lung maturation and inflammation. IL-22 plays a role in host response by participating in the intraamniotic inflammatory milieu preceding Ureaplasma parvum-induced preterm birth in mice, which was rescued by the deficiency of IL-22. Collectively, these data show that IL-22 alone is capable of causing fetal injury leading to neonatal death and can participate in host defense against microbial invasion of the amniotic cavity leading to preterm labor and birth. The Journal of Immunology, 2022, 208: 1595-1615.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1595-1615
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 2022


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