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Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2011 Nov;60(11):1529-41. doi: 10.1007/s00262-011-1104-5. Epub 2011 Sep 15.

Dual biological effects of the cytokines interleukin-10 and interferon-γ.

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Department of Surgery, University of Michigan School of Medicine, Ann Arbor, USA.


It is generally thought that each cytokine exerts either immune stimulatory (inflammatory) or immune inhibitory (antiinflammatory or regulatory) biological activities. However, multiple cytokines can enact both inhibitory and stimulatory effects on the immune system. Two of these cytokines are interleukin (IL)-10 and interferon-gamma (IFNγ). IL-10 has demonstrated antitumor immunity even though it has been known for years as an immunoregulatory protein. Generally perceived as an immune stimulatory cytokine, IFNγ can also induce inhibitory molecule expression including B7-H1 (PD-L1), indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), and arginase on multiple cell populations (dendritic cells, tumor cells, and vascular endothelial cells). In this review, we will summarize current knowledge of the dual roles of both of these cytokines and stress the previously underappreciated stimulatory role of IL-10 and inhibitory role of IFNγ in the context of malignancy. Our progressive understanding of the dual effects of these cytokines is important for dissecting cytokine-associated pathology and provides new avenues for developing effective immune therapy against human diseases, including cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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