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
  • pyretic
  • 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.