Last reviewed 01/2018
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:
- increased proliferation of NK cells
- increased proliferation of lymphokine activated killer (LAK) cells
- increased NK cell cytotoxicity
- B-lymphocyte stimulation
- increased immunoglobulin production
- monocyte activation
- increased interferon production
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.