Immune enhancement and anti-tumour activity of IL-23

Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2006 Nov;55(11):1426-31. doi: 10.1007/s00262-006-0171-5. Epub 2006 May 5.


Immunotherapy, including the use of cytokines and/or modified tumour cells immune stimulatory cytokines, can enhance the host anti-tumour immune responses. Interleukin-23 (IL-23) is a relative novel cytokine, which consists of a heterodimer of the IL-12p40 subunit and a novel p19 subunit. IL-23 has biological activities similar to but distinct from IL-12. IL-23 can enhance the proliferation of memory T cells and the production of IFN-gamma, IL-12 and TNF-alpha from activated T cells. IL-23 activates macrophages to produce TNF-alpha and nitric oxide. IL-23 can also act directly on dendritic cells and possesses potent anti-tumour and anti-metastatic activity in murine models of cancer. IL-23 can also induce a lower level of IFN-gamma production compared with that induced by IL-12. This may make IL-23 an alternative and safer therapeutic agent for cancer, as IL-12 administration can lead to severe toxic side effects because of the extremely high levels of IFN-gamma it induces.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Interleukin-23
  • Interleukin-23 Subunit p19
  • Interleukins / metabolism
  • Interleukins / pharmacology*
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • IL23A protein, human
  • Interleukin-23
  • Interleukin-23 Subunit p19
  • Interleukins
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interferon-gamma