Interleukin (IL)-20, a member of the IL-10 family of cytokines, was discovered in 2001. IL-20 acts on multiple cell types by activating on a heterodimer receptor complex of either IL-20R1-IL-20R2 or IL-22R1-IL-20R2. Recent evidence indicates that IL-20's interaction with its receptors might have proinflammatory effects on chronic inflammatory diseases, particularly rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoporosis, and breast cancer. Updated information about IL-20, such as its identification, expression, receptors, signaling, and biological activities, is illustrated in this review based on our research and the data available in the literature. IL-20 is a pleiotropic cytokine, which promotes inflammation, angiogenesis, and chemotaxis. IL-20 also regulates osteoclast differentiation by altering the receptor activator of NF-κB (RANK) and RANK ligand (RANKL) axis. Inflammation, angiogenesis, and osteoclastogenesis are critical for the pathogenesis of RA, osteoporosis, and breast cancerinduced osteolysis. Based on the in vitro and in vivo data and clinical samples, we demonstrated that IL-20 plays pivotal roles in these three diseases. In experimental models, anti-IL-20 monoclonal antibody ameliorates arthritis severity, protects against ovariectomized-induced bone loss, and inhibits breast tumor-induced osteolysis. This review presents the clinical implications of IL-20, which will lead to a better understanding of the biological functions of IL-20 in these diseases and provide new therapeutic options in the future.
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