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Scand J Immunol. 2001 Jun;53(6):529-32.

Il-12: keeping cell-mediated immunity alive.

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Department of Pathobiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, 3800 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Interleukin (IL)-12 has dominated the field of cell-mediated immunity since its discovery more than 10 years ago, and clearly plays an essential role in the development of Th1 cells under a variety of conditions. Recent studies now indicate that the importance of IL-12 is not limited to initiating an immune response, but may contribute to maintaining immunity. Thus, Th1 responses rapidly wane in the absence of IL-12, leading to a loss in protective immunity against intracellular pathogens, such as Leishmania and Toxoplasma. Determining how IL-12 maintains Th1 cells, and consequently cell-mediated immunity, will provide new insights useful in controlling the immune response, and may thus influence the design of new vaccines and immunotherapies.

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