Interleukins 18 and 21: biology, mechanisms of action, toxicity, and clinical activity

Curr Oncol Rep. 2006 Mar;8(2):114-9. doi: 10.1007/s11912-006-0046-0.


Interleukins 18 and 21 have been described, and the effect of each upon immune response and experimental tumors in animals has been the subject of much recent work. Both interleukins have shown antitumor effects in animals, which in some models are striking for their duration, specificity, and ability to protect against rechallenge with the same tumor. These characteristics suggest immunologic involvement in the antitumor response, and several papers suggest involvement of both innate and adaptive immune mechanisms. Recent early phase I clinical trials in human cancer patients have demonstrated evidence of clinical response. This review discusses the biology, preclinical animal tumor model data, and early clinical trial findings.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / immunology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Humans
  • Immunity / immunology*
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology
  • Interleukin-18 / immunology
  • Interleukin-18 / pharmacology*
  • Interleukin-18 / therapeutic use
  • Interleukins / immunology
  • Interleukins / pharmacology*
  • Interleukins / therapeutic use
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / immunology*


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Interleukin-18
  • Interleukins
  • interleukin-21