IL-2 infusion abrogates humoral immune responses in humans

Clin Exp Immunol. 1992 Mar;87(3):493-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.1992.tb03025.x.


Although IL-2 infusion enhances cell-mediated cytotoxicity in patients with neoplastic disease, administration is paradoxically associated with a modest fall in total serum IgG and an increased risk of infection. We now show that the adverse effects of IL-2 infusion on the humoral immune system are substantial. Although IL-2 induces the B cell growth and differentiating factors IL-4 and IL-6, infusion abrogates primary antibody responses entirely and reduces secondary antibody responses 50-fold following antigen challenge. There is no evidence of the generation of cells with suppressive activity on B cells but IL-2 increases the ratio of circulating virgin:memory cells. These results may help to explain the increased rate of bacterial infection in patients receiving IL-2. As IL-2 plays a central role in the generation of an immune response, the finding that it is also sufficiently immunosuppressive to inhibit primary- and secondary-type antibody responses suggests that exploration of the underlying mechanisms may provide insights into immune system homeostasis and may offer new approaches to therapeutic immunosuppression.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Antibody Formation / immunology*
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation / immunology
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Female
  • Hemocyanins / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins / analysis
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Interleukin-2 / therapeutic use*
  • Leukemia, Myeloid / immunology*
  • Leukemia, Myeloid / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mollusca / immunology
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / immunology*
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / therapy
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Recombinant Proteins / therapeutic use


  • Cytokines
  • Immunoglobulins
  • Interleukin-2
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Hemocyanins
  • keyhole-limpet hemocyanin