As humans, we need to know if something is “good” or “bad”. We don’t like when the answer is “it depends.” Unfortunately, with the human body, the answer is always “it depends.” IL-10 is a good example of this.
- Introduction To Interleukin-10
- The Good
- The Bad
- Diseases Associated With Lower IL-10 Levels
- Diseases Associated With Increased Levels
- Genetics of IL10
- How to Increase IL-10
- Does Not Influence IL-10 or is Unclear
- Health Tools I Wish I Had When I Was Sick
- Disclaimer and Caveats
Introduction To Interleukin-10
In humans, IL-10 is produced by a variety of immune cells. Since they’re released by Th2 and Mast cells, they’re part of the Th2 dominance category. This is overly simplistic, however, because IL-10 also suppresses a Th2 response. (R)
We usually think of cytokines as “bad” and inflammatory. IL-10 is an important exception.
IL-10 is anti-inflammatory cytokine because it decreases various immune cells such as Th1 AND Th2 cells (R, R2), neutrophils (R), macrophages and natural killer cells. (R) The last three are the guns of the immune system.
By inhibiting mast cells, it counteracts the inflammatory effect that these cells have at the site of an allergic reaction. (R)
Higher IL-10 was associated with more white matter volume in visual areas and tracts (R)
IL-10 Creates ‘Tolerance’
Perhaps the most important function of IL-10 is its ability to help create ‘tolerance’ to the proteins we ingest and the proteins in our body.
When we ingest a protein, the body has an elaborate mechanism by which to send the message to the immune system that this protein is cool and not harmful. This is called “oral tolerance” – because we tolerate a protein that we ingest.
IL-10 helps create oral tolerance, in addition to tolerance of our own body. (R)
IL-10 can be considered good most of the time, but not all of the time.
For example, if we have an infection, elevated IL-10 can block our ability to fight it effectively.
In the modern era, this is usually good because we can kill bacteria with the help of antibiotics and not rely solely on our immune system
I have a friend who I figured had an anti-inflammatory immune profile because he never had any inflammation issues in his life. Then he caught bacterial pneumonia and couldn’t get rid of it for 3 months. Only with antibiotics did he kill it. You can imagine someone with this immune profile would get killed off more readily pre-modern medicine.
IL-10 Can Block Response to Viral Infections
In fact, Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)/’Mono’, Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV) and some other viruses produce a molecule that’s structurally similar to IL-10 in order to evade the immune system. (R, R2) (especially herpes family viruses (R))
Even more, IL-10 can directly increase production of viral proteins (R).
IL-10 produced by these viruses stimulate antibody production more than regular IL-10. (R)
IL-10 Can Promote Cancer
IL-10 also poses a problem when it comes to cancer.
However, IL-10 also plays a protective anticancer role in some contexts by promoting cytotoxic T cell activity and IFN-γ production . (R)
It’s important to realize that there’s a difference between IL-10 levels systemically and in cancer tissue.
If IL-10 is at healthy levels in normal tissue and low levels in cancerous tissue, then that’s ideal, health wise.
The problem is that there’s a correlation between systemic levels and levels in specific tissues.
This is true for all tissues. Blood levels of IL-10 are not necessarily indicative of levels in your gut or other tissues, but there’s usually a correlation. It’s always most accurate to test the tissue itself, however.
IL-10 Can Contribute to Some Autoimmune Conditions
Since IL-10 increases antibody production, it can cause or worsen some autoimmune conditions. (R)
So even though it’s overall beneficial for inflammatory and autoimmune disorders, there are some exceptions. See below.
The Bottom Line
In the modern environment, having high IL-10 levels is probably better than low IL-10 levels. This is because we can fight bacterial infections and most viral infections don’t cause us too much trouble, usually.
For example, Th17/IL-17A is elevated in many cancers and promotes angiogenesis and stimulates proliferation+recruitment of neutrophils that can promote DNA damage through production of ROS/Free radicals. Their presence is associated with poor prognosis various cancers. (R)
If we are suffering from issues that are associated with high or low IL-10 levels, then we should rebalance it with diet, lifestyle, and supplements. And the solution will be different if you have high or low IL-10 levels.
The bottom line: IL-10 is a complex cytokine, but it’s mostly good. Obviously, having a balanced level is ideal.
Diseases Associated With Lower IL-10 Levels
This is a partial list
- IBS (R) – especially in males (R)
- Depression (R), and Anxiety (R, R2, R3)
- Autoimmune: Rheumatoid Arthritis (R), Sclerosis (R), Behcet’s (R)
- Asthma and Allergies (R)
- Sleep apnea (R)
- Crohn‘s (R), Colitis (R) – people with Crohn‘s felt better when given a bacteria that produces IL-10. However, a Cochrane review did not find benefit. (R)
- Pain – neuropathy (R)
- Autism (R)
- Psoriasis (R), Eczema (R)
- COPD (R)
Diseases Associated With Increased Levels
The most important thing to realize about IL-10 is that it responds to inflammatory states. So as opposed to other cytokines, when it’s elevated, it’s more likely to be the case that you’re already in an inflammatory state and the body is trying to bring the inflammation down.
- CFS (R,R2) – may help cause it
- Fibromyalgia (R)
- Migraines without aura (R) – less so in children (R)
- Schizophrenia (R)
- Atopic dermatitis (R), SLE (R), Systemic Sclerosis (R),
- Pancreatic cancer (R), Lymphoma, Melanoma (R),
- Heart disease (R) – IL-10 is protective against heart disease (R), but is likely elevated in response to inflammation. So elevated IL-10 is just a signal that something’s wrong, as far as science knows.
Genetics of IL10
SelfDecode also has a system analyzer, so you don’t need your genes to benefit from the program.
How to Increase IL-10
- Calorie Restriction (R)
- Sun/UVB (R),
- Exercise (R) – IL-10 showed a 27-fold increase immediately post exercise. (R)
- Wim Hof Breathing/Meditation (R)
- Sleep deprivation (R) – wouldn’t recommend it.
- Sesame oil (R)
- Cinnamon/NaB (R),
- Garlic (R),
- Cayenne/Capsicum (R),
- Licorice (R)
- Butyrate/Hi-maize (R) – humans. only smaller dosage in pigs (R)
- Black Cumin Seed Oil (R, R2, R3, R4). Also brings it down when high (R, R2, R3)
- Mustard (R)
Hormones and Neurotransmitters
- Cortisol/Glucocorticoids (R)
- Pregnenolone (R)
- Estrogen (R)
- Testosterone (R),
- Progesterone (R),
- Ingesting insulin (R)
- Serotonin (R)
- Niagen Nicotinamide NAD+/NAD+ (R),
- Curcumin (R),
- Probiotics: B fragilis (R), L Plantarum (R), S boulardii (R), L Casei (R), Bacillus Subtilis (R)
- Andrographis (R)
- Baicalin (R) (not IL-4 or IL-5…only IL-10)
- Boswellia (R) – (in the body of study)
- Olive leaf/Oleuropein (R)
- Arabinogalactan (R)
- Vitamin D3 (R),
- Astragalus (R),
- Honokiol (R, R2),
- Colostrum (R),
- Synephrine (R),
- Statins/Red Yeast Rice (R),
- Artemisinin (R),
- CoQ10 (R),
- Bitter melon (R)
- Metformin (R),
- Ketamine (R)
- Dexamethasone (R), Rolipram/cAMP (R), Phytosterols (R), Red clover (R), Betulin (R), Electroacupuncture (R),
- Pathways: Galectin-1 (R), IFN-b(+)…PPARδ(+)...IL-6(+)….NFAT hyperactivation (R)…
Trauma, burn, and major surgery are some events that increase production of IL-10. Sympathetic activation of the nervous system (fight or flight), increases IL-10. This is probably because these all result in increased cortisol release. (R) However, these are obviously not recommended.
Sleep deprivation also increases IL-10 (R), but I wouldn’t recommend it.
How to Decrease IL-10
The most healthy way to decrease IL-10 is by decreasing your sympathetic nervous system by increasing heart rate variability. When a study blocked sympathetic activation after major surgery by high epidural anesthesia, it significantly reduced the postoperative IL-10 release. (R)
- Chronic circadian disruption (R). – IL-10 trended lower (p = 0.08, t-test) in shifted mice 24 h after bacterial stimulus Exposure to nontraditional work schedules has been linked with increased risks of multiple cancers (colorectal, breast, lymphatic, and prostate), ulcers, obesity, diabetes, and various types of heart disease (R)
- Forskolin (R)
- Lovastatin (R),
- Cyanidin-3-O-β-glucoside (C3G) – typical anthocyanin (R),
- DHEA-S (R) – decreases increased IL-10 in aged animals.
- Lactoferrin (R) – depends on infection? (R)
Does Not Influence IL-10 or is Unclear
- Apigenin (R) – except when it’s downregulated by LPS (R).
- Lipoic Acid (R) – has mixed effect, but not significant anyhow.
- Quercetin (R, R2) – contradictory studies.
- Rooibos (R, R2) – contradictory
- Lactic acid (R)
- Lithium (R)
- Magnesium (R)
Health Tools I Wish I Had When I Was Sick
At SelfHacked, it’s our goal to offer our readers all the tools possible to get optimally healthy. When I was struggling with chronic health issues I felt stuck because I didn’t have any tools to help me get better. I had to spend literally thousands of hours trying to read through studies on pubmed to figure out how the body worked and how to fix it.
That’s why I decided to create tools that will help others cut down the guesswork:
- Lab Test Analyzer – a software tool that will analyze your labs and tell you what the optimal values are for each marker — as well as provide you with actionable tips and personalized health and lifestyle recommendations to help you get there.
- SelfDecode – a software tool that will help you analyze your genetic data from companies such as 23andme and ancestry. You will learn how your health is being impacted by your genes, and how to use this knowledge to your advantage.
- SelfHacked Secrets – an ebook where we examine and explain the biggest overlooked environmental factors that cause disease. This ebook is a great place to start your journey if you want to learn the essential steps to optimizing your health.
- SelfHacked Elimination Diet course – a video course that will help you figure out which diet works best for you
- Selfhacked Inflammation course – a video course on inflammation and how to bring it down
- Biohacking insomnia – an ebook on how to get great sleep
- Lectin Avoidance Cookbook – an e-cookbook for people with food sensitivities
- BrainGauge – a device that detects subtle brain changes and allows you to test what’s working for you
- SelfHacked VIP – an area where you can ask me (Joe) questions about health topics
Disclaimer and Caveats
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.
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