Paradoxical effects of cytokines in tumor immune surveillance and tumor immune escape

Cytokine Growth Factor Rev. Feb-Apr 2007;18(1-2):171-82. doi: 10.1016/j.cytogfr.2007.01.015. Epub 2007 Feb 27.


The role of cytokines in modulating the formation of new tumors is mediated by their ability to regulate antigen-specific anti-tumor responses and by the activation of non-specific mechanisms, including those involved in the processes of inflammation and innate resistance. Cytokines may influence the growth of tumors by acting directly on tumor cells as growth promoting or growth inhibiting factors or indirectly by attracting inflammatory cell types and affecting angiogenesis. Due to the potency and complexity of cytokine activity against tumor growth, the improvement of cloning techniques and the availability of recombinant forms of different cytokines, a great effort has been made in the recent years to exploit this anti-tumor potential for cancer therapy. This important goal has been difficult to achieve in most cases due to toxicity of most cytokines which could not be dissociated from their anti-tumoral functions. Nevertheless, if well designed, treatment protocols and/or modifications of the cytokine molecules may in some situations augment the anti-tumor effects while limiting the toxicity. One of these molecular approaches could be the design of peptides containing the functional domain of certain cytokines, exemplified by IT9302, a peptide homologous to the functional domain of IL-10, which has demonstrated to increase tumor NK cell sensitivity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytokines / immunology*
  • Cytokines / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Immunologic Surveillance*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Oligopeptides / immunology
  • Oligopeptides / therapeutic use
  • Tumor Escape*


  • Cytokines
  • Oligopeptides
  • alanyl-tyrosyl-methionyl-threonyl-methionyl-lysyl-isoleucyl-arginyl-asparagine