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J Leukoc Biol. 2009 Dec;86(6):1295-303. doi: 10.1189/jlb.0609445. Epub 2009 Oct 2.

Interleukin 27: a double-edged sword for offense and defense.

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  • 1Division of Molecular and Cellular Immunoscience, Department of Biomolecular Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Saga University, Nabeshima, Saga, Japan.


Cytokine-mediated immunity plays a crucial role in the pathogenesis of various diseases including infection and autoimmune diseases. IL-27, along with IL-12, -23, and -35, belongs to the IL-12 cytokine family. These family members play roles in regulation of Th cell differentiation. IL-27 is unique in that although it induces Th1 differentiation, the same cytokine suppresses immune responses. In the absence of IL-27-mediated immunosuppression, hyperproduction of various proinflammatory cytokines concomitant with severe inflammation is observed. The immunosuppressive effects of IL-27 depend on IL-2 suppression, inhibition of Th17 development, and induction of IL-10 production. Administration of IL-27 suppresses some diseases of autoimmune or allergic origin, demonstrating its potential in therapy of diseases mediated by inflammatory cytokines. In this review, we discuss recent studies about the role of IL-27 in immune regulation in view of its pro- and anti-inflammatory properties and possible therapeutic application.

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