Overview of interleukin-2 function, production and clinical applications

Cytokine. 2004 Nov 7;28(3):109-23. doi: 10.1016/j.cyto.2004.06.010.


The existence of interleukin (IL)-2 has been recognized for over 25 years, and it remains one of the most extensively studied cytokines. Here we present a broad overview of IL-2 history, functional activities, biological sources, regulation and applications to disease treatment. IL-2 exerts a wide spectrum of effects on the immune system, and it plays crucial roles in regulating both immune activation and homeostasis. Both IL-2 and its multipartite receptor are prototypical of the Type I receptor superfamily, and both have been exploited in numerous ways in the clinic. Despite the wealth of information generated about IL-2 from in vitro culture systems, in vivo mouse knockout models, and clinical trials in humans, fascinating new aspects of its functions in the immune system continue to emerge.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-2 / chemistry
  • Interleukin-2 / genetics
  • Interleukin-2 / immunology*
  • Interleukin-2 / therapeutic use*
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2 / immunology
  • Signal Transduction


  • Interleukin-2
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2