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Nat Med. 2003 May;9(5):540-7. Epub 2003 Apr 14.

Therapeutic use of IL-2 to enhance antiviral T-cell responses in vivo.

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Emory Vaccine Center, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.


Interleukin (IL)-2 is currently used to enhance T-cell immunity but can have both positive and negative effects on T cells. To determine whether these opposing results are due to IL-2 acting differently on T cells depending on their stage of differentiation, we examined the effects of IL-2 therapy during the expansion, contraction and memory phases of the T-cell response in lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV)-infected mice. IL-2 treatment during the expansion phase was detrimental to the survival of rapidly dividing effector T cells. In contrast, IL-2 therapy was highly beneficial during the death phase, resulting in increased proliferation and survival of virus-specific T cells. IL-2 treatment also increased proliferation of resting memory T cells in mice that controlled the infection. Virus-specific T cells in chronically infected mice also responded to IL-2 resulting in decreased viral burden. Thus, timing of IL-2 administration and differentiation status of the T cell are critical parameters in designing IL-2 therapies.

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