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Nat Rev Immunol. 2004 Sep;4(9):665-74.

Tolerance, not immunity, crucially depends on IL-2.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, Florida 33136, USA.


Interleukin-2 (IL-2) was identified based on its potent T-cell growth-factor activity and is widely considered to be a key cytokine in T-cell-dependent immune responses. However, the main non-redundant activity of this cytokine centres on the regulation of T-cell tolerance, and recent studies indicate that a failure in the production of CD4(+)CD25(+) regulatory T cells is the underlying cause of autoimmunity in the absence of IL-2. In marked contrast to the importance of IL-2 in peripheral T-cell tolerance, T-cell immunity is readily elicited to various agents in the absence of IL-2 in vivo. Here, we discuss these findings and, in particular, the action of IL-2 on regulatory T cells and effector cells, and the targeting of IL-2 and/or the IL-2 receptor in clinical settings.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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