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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1986 Dec 17;865(3):307-27.

Tumour inhibition by interleukin-2 at the tumour/host interface.


Until recently, lymphokines were regarded suspiciously as 'ill-defined factors'. Today, however, some of them have been clearly defined in both structural and functional terms. The interleukin-2 (IL-2) molecule and its specific membrane receptors have been the subject of particular attention. Endogenous IL-2 has proved to be an important signal for the activation and expansion of various cell-mediated immunity functions, while exogenous IL-2 has been used to activate numerous cell functions, both in vitro and in vivo, as well as in tumour immunotherapy, both alone or combined with lymphocytes previously activated in vitro (lymphokine-activated killer cells). Adoptive transfer of these cells together with high doses of IL-2 is particularly promising from the clinical standpoint, though by no means free from problems. IL-2 can also be employed in small doses locally in the presence of non-activated lymphocytes from tumour bearing mice to induce a local reaction that subsequently becomes systemic and can lead to the rejection of incipient tumours. Various host immune cells, primarily eosinophils and lymphocytes are involved in this reaction, which can also give rise to tumour-specific immune memory. In this way, the host immune system, despite its inevitable defeat in the first battle against a tumour, may acquire an important role in the long war that lies ahead.

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