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Interleukin-2 is a polypeptide of approximately 15kD mass. It is secreted by T-lymphocytes: T helper CD4+ predominantly and T cytotoxic/supressor CD8+ to a lesser extent.
IL-2 acts in a short-lived and autocrine manner, binding to IL-2 receptors on the same cell. It stimulates T-lymphocyte activation and proliferation. This mechanism is vital in inflammatory responses and in cytotoxic T cell tumoricidal activity.
Other functions include:
Clinically, recombinant interleukin-2, aldesleukin, has been used against certain malignancies. It is licensed for use in metastatic renal cell carcinoma. It has been used experimentally against malignant melanoma.