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Semin Immunol. 2012 Jun;24(3):218-24. doi: 10.1016/j.smim.2012.02.005. Epub 2012 Mar 10.

IL-7 in human health and disease.

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Pediatric Oncology Branch, National Cancer Institute, 10 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892, United States.


IL-7 plays many essential roles in human health and disease. Congenital deficiencies in IL-7 signaling result in profound immunodeficiency, polymorphisms in IL7Rα modulate susceptibility to autoimmune disease, and acquired somatic activating mutations in IL7Rα contribute to neoplastic transformation in B cell and T cell leukemia. In response to lymphopenia, IL-7 accumulates to supranormal levels, which alters T cell homeostasis by augmenting T cell reactivity toward self and cognate antigens. This physiologic response is now routinely exploited to improve the efficacy of adoptive cell therapies for cancer. Clinical trials of recombinant IL-7 have demonstrated safety and potent immunorestorative effects, and current studies are investigating whether rhIL-7 therapy can improve outcomes in chronic viral infection and in the context of cancer immunotherapies. Building upon the large fund of knowledge regarding the basic biology of IL-7, this review will discuss the many and varied roles of IL-7 in human health and disease.

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