Back to Browse Journals » Cancer Management and Research » Volume 4

The 20th anniversary of interleukin-2 therapy: bimodal role explaining longstanding random induction of complete clinical responses

Authors Coventry BJ, Ashdown ML

Received 18 May 2012

Accepted for publication 7 July 2012

Published 2 August 2012 Volume 2012:4 Pages 215—221


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Brendon J Coventry, Martin L Ashdown

Discipline of Surgery, University of Adelaide, Royal Adelaide Hospital and Faculty of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Australia

Background: This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the approval by the US Food and Drug Administration of interleukin-2 (IL2) for use in cancer therapy, initially for renal cell carcinoma and later for melanoma. IL2 therapy for cancer has stood the test of time, with continued widespread use in Europe, parts of Asia, and the US. Clinical complete responses are variably reported at 5%–20% for advanced malignant melanoma and renal cell carcinoma, with strong durable responses and sustained long-term 5–10-year survival being typical if complete responses are generated.
Methods: The literature was reviewed for the actions and clinical effects of IL2 on subsets of T cells. The influence of IL2 on clinical efficacy was also sought.
Results: The review revealed that IL2 is capable of stimulating different populations of T cells in humans to induce either T effector or T regulatory responses. This apparent "functional paradox" has confounded a clear understanding of the mechanisms behind the clinical effects that are observed during and following administration of IL2 therapy. An average complete response rate of around 7% in small and large clinical trials using IL2 for advanced renal cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma has been shown from a recent review of the literature.
Conclusion: This review considers the published literature concerning the actions and emerging clinical effects of IL2 therapy, spanning its 20-year period in clinical use. It further details some of the recently described "bimodal" effects of IL2 to explain the apparent functional paradox, and how IL2 might be harnessed to emerge rapidly as a much more effective and predictable clinical agent in the near future.

Keywords: interleukin-2, cancer therapy, immunotherapy, immune response, translational research, cytokines, regulatory T cells, immune modulation, complete responses, bimodal role

Creative Commons License This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.

Download Article [PDF] View Full Text [HTML] 


Other articles by this author:

Readers of this article also read:

The treatment landscape in thyroid cancer: a focus on cabozantinib

Weitzman SP, Cabanillas ME

Cancer Management and Research 2015, 7:265-278

Published Date: 19 August 2015

Drug-induced impairment of renal function

Pazhayattil GS, Shirali AC

International Journal of Nephrology and Renovascular Disease 2014, 7:457-468

Published Date: 12 December 2014

Prognostic stratification of colorectal cancer patients: current perspectives

Schneider NI, Langner C

Cancer Management and Research 2014, 6:291-300

Published Date: 2 July 2014

Occupational exposure to wood dust and formaldehyde and risk of nasal, nasopharyngeal, and lung cancer among Finnish men

Siew SS, Kauppinen T, Kyyrönen P, Heikkila P, Pukkala E

Cancer Management and Research 2012, 4:223-232

Published Date: 7 August 2012

Factors influencing distant recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma following combined radiofrequency ablation and transarterial chemoembolization therapy in patients with hepatitis C

Nojiri S, Kusakabe A, Shinkai N, Matsuura K, Iio E, Miyaki T, Joh T

Cancer Management and Research 2011, 3:267-272

Published Date: 28 July 2011