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J Leukoc Biol. 1994 Feb;55(2):280-8.


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Department of Oncology, Hoffman-LaRoche, Inc., Nutley, NJ 07110.


Interleukin-12 (IL-12) is a newly characterized cytokine that has a unique heterodimeric structure. It was initially cloned from B lymphoblastoid cell lines, but the majority of IL-12 is produced by macrophages/monocytes following appropriate stimulation. IL-12 can (1) enhance the cytolytic activity of a number of effector cells including T cells, natural killer (NK) cells, lymphokine activated killer (LAK) cells, and macrophages, (2) increase proliferation of activated NK and T cells, (3) induce production of cytokines, such as interferon gamma, (4) stimulate the induction of TH1 cells, (5) upregulate a number of cell surface molecules, (6) inhibit IgE secretion, and (7) act as a synergistic factor for hematopoietic stem cells. Based on these potent immunomodulatory activities, IL-12 has been evaluated in several disease models for parasitic infections and malignancies. Marked activity of IL-12 against both Leishmania and Toxoplasma has been reported. Likewise, antimetastatic and antitumor activity, including tumor regression, has been observed against a number of murine malignancies treated with IL-12 using doses that result in little toxicity. The results suggest that IL-12 may be a useful cytokine for the treatment of a number of diseases.

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