Interleukin-18 (IL-18) is a member of the IL-1 family of cytokines. Similar to IL-1β, IL-18 is synthesized as an inactive precursor requiring processing by caspase-1 into an active cytokine, but unlike IL-1β, the IL-18 precursor is constitutively present in all cells in healthy humans and animals. The activity of IL-18 is balanced by the presence of a high affinity, naturally occurring IL-18-binding protein (IL-18BP). IL-18 is synthesized as a biologically inactive precursor molecule lacking a signal peptide which requires cleavage into an active, mature molecule by the intracellular cysteine protease called IL-1beta-converting enzyme (ICE, also called caspase-1). The activity of mature IL-18 is closely related to that of IL-1. IL-18 induces gene expression and synthesis of tumor necrosis factor (TNF), IL-1, Fas ligand, and several chemokines. The activity of IL-18 is via an IL-18...
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