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J Immunol. 2003 Jun 1;170(11):5470-4.

Propagation and control of T cell responses by heparan sulfate-bound IL-2.

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Division of Transplantation, Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198-3285, USA.


IL-2, a cytokine produced by T cells, is a key regulator of immune responses and T cell homeostasis. Controlling the availability of IL-2 is consequently of significant import to the immune system. Like other cytokines, IL-2 is thought to function as a soluble agonist, transiently present when secreted in response to appropriate stimuli. In this study, we show that the most salient properties of IL-2, propagation and control of T cell responses, are mediated in vivo by bound and not free cytokine and specifically by heparan sulfate-bound IL-2. These findings necessitate a new look at how IL-2 regulates immune responses and support the notion that the microenvironment plays a determining role in modulating the character of immune responses.

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