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Cytokine. 2011 Nov;56(2):133-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cyto.2011.07.011. Epub 2011 Aug 6.

The role of IL-21 in hematological malignancies.

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Department of Hematology, Qilu Hospital, Shandong University, 107 West Wenhua Road, Jinan, Shandong, PR China.


IL-21, the newest member of the common γ-chain family of cytokines, has pleiotropic biological effects through regulating a variety of immune cells. Recently, the role of IL-21 in the treatment of cancers has been widely investigated. Conducted phase I trials in metastatic malignant melanoma and renal cell carcinoma have shown that rIL-21 has a favorable antitumor activity. Expression of IL-21 and IL-21R has also been found in many types of hematological malignancies, such as chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), multiple myeloma (MM) and lymphoma. Through binding with IL-21R, IL-21 induces activation of different JAK/STAT signal transduction pathways and regulates proliferation or apoptosis of tumor cells. In this review, we will discuss the expression of IL-21/IL-21R and its effect in different types of hematological malignancies.

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